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Symbol Analysis

There are five different colors mentioned in the fifteen lines that make up "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock." For Stevens, vibrant and bold colors represent the richness of an active imagination, while white is unimaginative and nap-inducing.

  • Line 2: Okay, how boring is it to wear the same white nightgown every night? Sure, no one's looking, but still, you should liven it up for yourself. These white nightgowns are boring our poor speaker to death. 
  • Line 3: By pointing out that no nightgowns are green, the speaker is warming you up for the real wild colors that follow.
  • Lines 4-6: These crazy colors come straight out of the circus. And we pay extra close attention to them, thanks to Stevens's clever use of anaphora.
  • Line 11: You've got to use that movie theater in your brain to see the brilliant colors of periwinkle flowers (purplish) and baboon butt (red). Now we're getting really imaginative.
  • Line 14: Like in line 11, use your imagination to see the orange and black of the tiger fur—a whole new color.
  • Line 15: Red weather pushes your imagination to the reasonable limits and beyond. Weather? Red? How? This is the climax that Stevens has built us up to. Hope you were ready.

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