Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.


The gowns represent both Evelyn’s achievements throughout her career and the false selves that she has presented to the world. The gowns appearing in the 2017 auction show up throughout the novel during pivotal and complex moments in Evelyn’s life. Notably, she wears the emerald green gown to the 1959 Academy Awards. This is an event where she both celebrates being nominated for her performance in One More Day and hides the fact that Don has begun to physically abuse her. She wears the violet soufflé gown to celebrate the release of Anna Karenina in 1962 while simultaneously hiding the fact that she married Rex for publicity and was heartbroken over losing Celia. She wears the navy-blue silk Michael Maddax gown in while receiving her first Oscar in 1982. Here, she sends a secret message of love and devotion to Celia in her acceptance speech. By giving the gowns away before she dies, Evelyn sheds the false selves that she wore throughout her life. 


Names play an important role in both signifying and masking characters’ true identities. When Evelyn introduces herself to Monique, Monique remarks through narration that doing so when everyone in the room already knows your name is uniquely powerful. But in reality, most people don’t know Evelyn’s true name. Only Harry, Celia, and Monique know the name her mother gave her, Evelyn Herrera. To become famous, Evelyn sets aside her given name just as she set aside her Cuban identity. Monique also changes her name. She goes from her birth name, Elizabeth, to the name her father chose for her, Monique, after her father’s death. In this way, Monique illustrates how proud she is to be her father’s daughter. She wants to succeed in telling Evelyn’s story and see the name her father chose for her in big print all over the article. Unlike Evelyn, Monique honors her family and claims her true identity when striving for success.  

The Color Green 

The color green represents the light and dark sides of Evelyn’s beauty and sexuality. Evelyn first wears a green dress when she loses her virginity to Ernie to get a ride to Hollywood, the hue emphasizing both her innocence and her ambition. Evelyn also wears an emerald green dress to the premier of Little Women where she kisses Celia for the first time at the afterparty. Kissing a woman is another sexual first for Evelyn, and it leads her to discover both her greatest love and her own bisexuality. She later wears emerald green as Don hits her and when she discovers that Don is cheating on her. The color holds for Evelyn both the bright hope of new romance and the dark threat of toxic love. When she is accused of being jealous of Celia’s success in the press, the article is notably titled “Evelyn, Green’s Not Your Color.” But the press is mistaken in painting Evelyn as green with envy. It is instead the green of new romance which forces Evelyn to avoid being seen in public with Celia. As her beauty and sexuality in many ways define her throughout her career, green has become Evelyn’s signature color.