Color is mentioned frequently through the book and its correlation with black or lack of color. Mahu describes how Tausi told her about her namesake and how she began to see colors. The colors signify information or revelation she encounters about herself and her family. The knowledge is the antithesis, it is the aggressor which enables her to grow. The colors she sees, black, brown, and red, are also the color of the tattoos. Black is the primary ink which is used. It is the lack of color.
Color is also applied differently in the Western culture opposed to the Samoan traditional tattoos. The Samoan culture uses little color or mainly black to connect members of the tribe to the community. These tattoos are physical representations of an individuals association to his culture. However, Western culture views tattoos as a separator. Western tattoos apply color and even different symbols to separate from society in order to associate the individual meaning to his physical mark.
The colors black, the ink used to apply the tribal tattoo, and red associated with pain and blood are the two colors which Malu sees and associates herself with. The blood signifier evokes life line, family, and the instance of flowing which are all associated with tattooing. There are also constant “flowing” terms used to link Malu with her past. The blood as a flowing of unrestricted facet of the body resembles her unrestricted or lack of correlation with her tribe.
As the novel ends, more colors are mentioned I n reverence to Malu. This could signify her break from the tribe, and the balance she must obtain between her tradition and the weight of her family’s shame. “The blue turtle felt the wind on its neck and grew wings” (154). The blue turtle is not associated with the traditional Samoan culture, but it is growing and progressing. She becomes the combination or the color, that is no longer “black” or lack, but a palette of flowing blood and continuation.