While reading Spinning I had a feeling that the color yellow was important because of how sparsely it was used compared to the dominant colors of purple and white. Thinking of this I looked up interviews with Walden and found one where she states that yellow is used as an “emotional accent.” So having this project assigned, I thought it would be interesting to map the ways in which she uses the color throughout the novel.
As such I decided to collect data by counting the number of pages that include yellow per chapter and 1/3 of a chapter. The per chapter graph helps to indicate when key events occur in the story, whereas the 1/3 of chapter graph helps the reader understand some of her writing techniques. If you look at the per chapter graph, the most notable peaks are at the second chapter (the intro of the book is labeled one, so chapter 2 is labeled 3), chapters 5 & 6, and 9 & 10. This seems like an interesting correlation because the most significant events happen in these moments. Chapter 2 is the first set in Texas so the weight of her move obviously affected her. Chapters 5 & 6 include the flashback with her first coach, the car crash, and her first kiss with Rae. Chapters 9 & 10 are the final chapters and pull the story to its conclusions Walden draws from her reflections of the past. When looking at the graph broken down by thirds, her varied techniques of storytelling become clear. In some chapters Walden begins the chapter with several pages including yellow, the middle with little or no use of yellow, and ends with similar levels of yellow as the beginning. I think this is similar to when authors use a hook or try to capture interest at the beginning of a chapter, follow with filler detail, and end on an interesting note to keep the reader interested. In other cases the process is inverted where Walden starts with minimal use of yellow leading to an event, high use during a significant moment, and then trail off with less use after the event.
While these maps are interesting, I think they have some flaws. While counting I decided that any amount of yellow would qualify a page as including the color. As a consequence, these graphs don’t indicate the percentage of yellow per page and treat all amounts of yellow used as the same. Therefore there is no way of discerning whether the amount of yellow per page is import. Another flaw of these maps is that they only further understanding after reading the book. Looking at them would be meaningless prior to reading because they would only indicate when events happen or how she builds emotion.
Overall I would argue that doing this project has helped enrich my understanding of her novel. I now understand the ways in which she structured and built her story simply by analyzing a sparsely used color. I think this goes to show Walden’s mastery of visual storytelling.