Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue



This painting depicts a cow skull against a red, white, and blue background. While one would believe a colorful background would make people feel warm and inviting, this painting does the opposite. This painting creates a haunting and unsettling atmosphere, evoking themes of decay and the passage of time. This is present in Bag of Bones, as it depicts supernatural occurrences, haunted pasts, and the lingering presence of death, emphasizing the theme of "The Macabre". 

Within the novel, it states, "Ghosts, I believe, are people who died with stories left unfinished, who can't rest until they've told their stories." This quote reflects the unresolved trauma and presence of the supernatural within the novel, contributing to its macabre atmosphere. The novel also states, "The dead can hold grudges better than anyone. They've got nothing else to do with their time." This quote highlights the novel's theme of vengeance and the ways the dead influence the living, contributing to its sense of unease and foreboding. Both the novel and the painting evoke feelings of dread and a sense of unease, causing readers to confront the darker aspects of human existence and the mysteries of the unknown.

Noël Carroll states in their article, "The Nature of Horror," "Like suspense, works of horror are designed to elicit a certain kind of affect. We shall presume that this is an emotional state whose emotion we call art-horror." This quote signifies that novel just as this novel evokes feelings of fear and uneasiness, further emphasizing the recurring theme of "The Macabre" in this novel and the painting, as well as in many other literary pieces and artworks.


Works Cited

“Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Dec. 2023,,_White,_and_Blue.

American, Georgia O’Keeffe. “Georgia o’keeffe: Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1 Jan. 1970,

“Bookquoters.” 28+ Quotes from Bag of Bones by Stephen King, Accessed 3 May 2024.

Carroll, Noël. “The Nature of Horror.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 46, no. 1, 1987, pp. 51–59. JSTOR, Accessed 4 May 2024.

Associated Place(s)


  • Georgia O'Keeffe

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