Don’t Pinch Me, Bro: A Look at The Color Green in Literature

Posted by Sarah Fox

Set that alarm reminder now to wear green on St. Patrick's Day or risk the physical pain of a pinch. In honor of that mandate, we are celebrating all things green in literature. Let’s hope it is enough to keep us safe from violent fingers.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet

We understand the need to color coordinate an outfit, but the Green Knight takes it a bit too far. When you are green from head to toe, Tim Gunn would have to decree that you are committing a fashion faux pas. You know it is bad when it is part of your name. We can say one thing for him though: he is definitely safe from being pinched on St. Patrick’s Day.


Othello by William Shakespeare

Dear Shakespeare, thank you for starting prejudice against green-eyed people everywhere. Iago tells Othello to watch out for jealousy by referring to it as “the green-eyed monster.” This makes the green-eyed writers green with envy for our non-monstrous brown- or blue-eyed counterparts. We do plan on using our green eyes as a way to get out of any potential pinches on March 17.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some people would assume that a green light on a dock would just indicate that somebody forgot to take down Christmas decorations. This is not the case for Gatsby. For him, the green light is on Daisy’s dock, so it represents his past romance with her. Or money. Or the American dream. It really depends on which English teacher you talk to. Either way, the man is obsessed with staring at and talking about that green light. Romantic tip for all the singles out there: you too can put a green light on your window and attract stalkerish attention from your past flings.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

We have two words for you: Emerald City. Apparently it shines so bright that you have to wear green shades. We are not sure about you, but we definitely want to pick up a pair. Not only would we make a fashion statement, but the green-tinted vision would prevent us from pinching people on St. Patrick’s Day. This would help us keep a few friends.


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

We loved dying Easter eggs as children, but we certainly never had a desire to eat them. So we definitely cannot blame the narrator for telling Sam to stuff it when he keeps trying to peer pressure him to eat green eggs and ham. He eventually gives in and eats the green food, and he is shocked to find he enjoys it. We are not sure what message this is supposed to give to kids, but we do know that we learned that food dye is not the enemy. But we also could have picked this up from all the St. Patrick’s Day happy hour deals. Green beer, anyone?

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at