I read a sentence in a chapter in textbook which was:

But Sadao, searching the spot of black in the twilighted sea that night, had his reward. There was no prick of light in the dusk. No one was on the island.

Let me provide you the context here. Sadao was helping a person in escape by instructing him to go to an island and flash a torch if he was there the next day. But he had gone so there was no prick of light. But I want to ask what he means by searching the "spot of black". He should've searched for light not for blackness. Moreover I think "black" has been used as a noun here and no definition for the noun sense of "black" seems to fit for me here. Does "of black" mean "having the color black" here? What am I missing?

  • 2
    Presumably the "spot of black" is the silhouette of the island against the lighter (twilighted) sea (or sky), otherwise undetectable unless a torch was flashed. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 16:17
  • @WeatherVane I'd agree, he could have said "spot of blackness" instead so "black" is being used as a noun.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


The "spot of black" refers to the island which is silhouetted against the twilight sea, where blackness is all there is to be seen.

I think this is literary device, intended to be set against the following "prick of light."

  • spot of black

  • prick of light

The first is set against twilight, the second against dusk, and both synonyms contrast with the absence, or presence, of light. Unusually, it is the absence of light which is preferred.

  • Can it be said that "of black" means "having the color black" here?
    – kelvin
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 3:36

A silhouette of an island at twilight:

enter image description here

See how black it looks?

  • Can it be said that "of black" means "having the color black" here?
    – kelvin
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 3:37
  • That is exactly what it means. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 10:14

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