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Black and white/Theories

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Main Article Theories about
Black and white
Main Discussion
 Theories may be removed if ... 
  1. Stated as questions or possibilities (avoid question marks, "Maybe", "I think", etc).
  2. More appropriate for another article.
  3. Illogical or previously disproven.
  4. Proven by canon source, and moved to main article.
  5. Speculative and lacking any evidence to support arguments.
  6. Responding to another theory (use discussion page instead).
  • This does not include responses that can stand alone as its own theory.
  • Usage of an indented bullet does not imply the statement is a response.

See the Lostpedia theory policy for more details.

Good vs. Evil

  • Black represents evil and white represents good.
    • As many things in Lost universe are really inverted, black may represent Good and white may represent Evil.
      • The lost universe is not inverted, black is evil, white is good.

Left vs. Right

Black is associated with right, and white is associated with left. Examples: Locke holding up the backgammon pieces when explaining the game to Walt; Locke's eyes in Claire's dream; Sawyer's glasses; Mikhail's eye patch; young Claire's white cast and black bangle on her arms. In each of these cases, black is on the right, and white is on the left.

  • However, the pattern is reversed when Sayid kills Mr Avellino; he wears a white glove on his right hand, while Mr Avellino wears a black glove on his left hand. This reversal may be symbolic.

Yin/Yang - Manichaeism

Yin and Yang

Manichaeism (Man-a-key-ism) (or more accurately Neo-Manicheism)is a description of philosophies. A manicheaist philosophy believes that everything is either black or white. Yin/Yang is a type of manichaeist philosophy in which yin represents the female, dark, soft and yang as the male, light, and hard. Taoist philosophy explicitly denies that either is good or evil. It instead focuses that neither can exist without the other, and that the existence of these "opposites," indeed the very point where they touch and essentially merge into "matter," is where the universe exists.

In other philosophies, black and white also represent contrasts, each of which is consistently associated with certain traits. In Lost, characters can be more black or white, or a gray mixtures of both. Sometimes, when a character makes a large change, there will be a striking change in their appearance (examples: Claire's hair and clothes before and after meeting her father; Jack after leaving the Island; Ben after losing his daughter). Through these many clues, we can begin to tease apart all the opposing traits that black and white represent. Here are some possible contrasts:

Traits
Black White
left right
good great
farmer hunter
science faith
attachment acceptance of fate
deception honesty
death life
astral projection time travel


Evidence and reasoning for some of these contrasts are sketched out below.

Black

  • Black represents struggling against fate; this includes attempts to manipulate and con people.
    • When Bernard tries to make an S.O.S. sign on the beach to escape their fate of being stuck on the Island, he uses black rocks.
    • Kate is saved from capture (fate) by the appearance of a black horse on the road.
    • When Kate is stitching up Jack, she gives him a choice of colors, and he picks black. Characters often remark that Jack has trouble letting go.
    • The biblical Jacob was later renamed "Israel," meaning "struggled with God." He tricked his brother out of his birthright. The Jacob on the show appears to be afraid of light.
    • Ben is a frequent liar who manipulates people to get what he wants. He also tends to try to stop the inevitable, that is, struggle against fate. He has black hair, and has some control over the smoke monster.
  • Black is associated with attachment.
    • When Charlie is suffering from heroin withdrawal, he is dressed in dark colors, which he stops wearing after Locke helps him quit.
    • Similarly, Jack grows a prominent dark beard at the same time he begins abusing drugs.
    • The Black Rock is a slaving ship in the "Dark Territory." It is used in a similar manner, when Locke takes his father there so that Sawyer can kill him and they can both let him go.
    • Black may also represent judgment.
    • When the monster manifested as Yemi, it seemed to be passing judgement on Eko.
    • Ben, who has some control over the smoke monster, often speaks of "good" people, and seems to have little regard for those who are not "good people" in his eyes.

White

  • White is associated with faith.
    • When Locke arrives on the Island, he has a cut over his right eye (right is associated with black); this seems to coincide with a damping down of his black traits (that is, anger and frustration with his disability and his father, both of which he gets away from when he arrives on the island). He soon sees the white monster, and has faith that they were brought to the island for a reason. Later, after Boone dies, his faith is restored by a white light coming from the hatch.
    • Eko is also a man of faith. His faith is only strengthened by his visit to The Pearl (which has an all-white logo), which he believes to be a test. On the island, he is shown wearing light-colored shirts. He is killed by the smoke monster.
  • White is associated with belief in fate, and refusal to take responsibility for one's actions.
    • Ms. Hawking, who tells Desmond about the futility of trying to change destiny, wears white clothing and has white hair.
    • The smoke monster kills Eko, after Yemi (presumably a manifestation of the monster) tries to get him to confess his sins, and he refuses. Eko was killed because he refused to take responsibility for his actions, instead blaming fate.
    • Christian is another character who refuses to take responsibility; his phrase "that's why the Red Sox will never win the series" sums it up. He appears in the episode "White Rabbit" (presumably he is the white rabbit that the title refers to), has white hair, and wears white sneakers. It's also worth noting that he tells Jack to give his patients hope, and it's this that inspires Jack to perform a miracle by fixing Sarah's back.

Grey

  • The combination of white and black is associated with people who are "special."
    • Walt's last name, Lloyd, comes from the Welsh word "llwyd," which means "grey." Walt is considered special, and has powers, including astral projection and the ability to manipulate probabilities. Also, he wore a grey shirt on the island, and wore a striped black and white shirt when he visited Hurley.
    • Dharma's symbols have a balance between white and black, suggesting that they value a balance between the two forces. Also, the two founders of the DHARMA initiative, Karen and Gerald DeGroot, seem to show this balance. Karen has blond hair, while Gerald has black hair and facial hair.
    • The fictional soccer team that comes back from two goals down in the last two minutes of a game is called Graybridge.
    • In Claire's vision, Locke is shown with one black eye and one white eye. He also has traits of both white (faith) and black (attachment). The Others consider him to be special.
    • Jack has both white and black traits (he is a "man of science, man of faith" as explained by the producers). He has performed at least two miracles--saving Charlie (while wearing a grey shirt), and fixing Sarah's back (while wearing grayish-blue scrubs--obviously not strong evidence, but not a contradiction either).

Characters

Here are some guesses for the "color" of different characters (note that some have both white and black traits, and characters can change over time):

Characters
Black MiB, Charles Widmore, Ben, Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Michael, Ana Lucia, Locke, Walt, Jin, Miles, Charlie (during heroin abuse)
White Jacob, Christian, Locke, Bernard, Sun, Juliet, Hurley, Walt, Claire, Charlie, Eko, Rose, Jack

Polarity

  • Black and White is a representation of positive and negative. This may also represent the high level energy at the Swan (that they have to keep hitting the numbers to keep from coming out all at once), and the Orchid. The Swan is probably positively charged, which is why it implodes. The Orchid is negatively charged, and may be a type of vacuum of energy, which is what makes the chamber with the wheel in it frozen, despite being in a tropical zone. When Ben turned the wheel, he may have reversed the polarity of the Island, which is what causes it to change position, probably to somewhere opposite of where it is, such as an Arctic climate. This may also explain where the polar bears come from... they have been there from a time when the Island's polarity was previously reversed that way in the past.


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