I started this post thinking I would list books that matched each color on the American flag: red for books involving “hardiness” and “valor,” white for “purity” and “innocence,” and blue for “vigilance,” “perseverance,” and “justice” (according to the meanings of the colors provided by usflag.org). I figured I’d end with a list of books that present all three colors.
But then I hit a bit of an intriguing snag.
Thinking of books representing all three colors was easy enough…basically any of the recent teen dystopian novels make the list! (The Hunger Games, the Matched series, Divergent, etc.) Some classic literature presents a nice blend, too, like Jane Eyre, Les Misérables, To Kill a Mockingbird, and of course Harry Potter. (P.S. If you’re getting déjà vu right now it might be because this was basically the book version of last year’s July 4th post, Top 4 Independent and Inspirational Book Characters.) In all of these books we read about characters who persevere and seek justice, who are full of resilience with strong moral compasses.
But when I started to think about which books embodied just white or just red, the list became a lot harder to create. What books have innocence without perseverance, or valor without justice? (Is it even possible to separate the two out?) “Blue” books are probably the easiest to name. They’d be the ones where the character seeking “justice” or persevering against something is overtly flawed (see most of classic literature, but especially books like Wuthering Heights with Heathcliff, Shakespeare’s The Tempest with Prospero, or Frankenstein with both the monster and Frankenstein himself). Maybe “white” books would be children’s stories, although I honestly don’t know what “red” books would be. Even within these one-color books, though, we can find elements of the other colors that make the stories well-rounded and give glimpses of hope, or triumph over evil.
In the end, by largely failing to separate the colors out into certain books it became clearer than ever that all three colors with their representations of purity, valor, and justice are needed to strike the perfect balance–to some degree in literature, but certainly in life. I’m thankful to live in a country where all three are a part of our flag.