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There are several recurring thematic motifs on LOST, which generally have no direct impact on the story itself, but expand the show's literary and philosophical subtext. These elements include frequent appearances of the colors black and white, which reflect the dualism within characters and situations; eyes, which often appear in close-up at the start of episodes; dysfunctional family situations, as portrayed in the lives of nearly all the main characters; references to numerous works of literature, including mentions and discussions of particular novels. There are also many allusions to philosophy, demonstrated most clearly in the distinct naming of certain characters after famous historical thinkers, such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume.
| Another Life
A recurring theme is the the mention of "Another Life", which has been hindered to many times during the series. Desmond's familiar catchphrase which has been spouted many times throughout the series. Also, Sayid's former love Nadia made reference to the next life.
Most of the major characters have dysfunctional parents, particularly fathers, who are either absent, reluctant, or destructive. "Father issues are a big part of the show thematically," says Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse. Most notably, Locke is the victim of a betrayal in "Deus Ex Machina" by both his natural parents.
| Black and White
The colors black and white, which traditionally reflect opposition or dualism (i.e. yin and yang), appear frequently throughout the series. Their dichotomy is laid out in the show's pilot episode — Locke explains backgammon to Walt by holding up one black and one white piece, saying, "Two players, two sides — one is light, one is dark."
References to eyes appear frequently in Lost. The pilot episode starts with the close-up of Jack's eye opening up. Similar images of an eye begins many episodes of the first season, often being the character whose flashbacks are to be featured.
Episodes often mention or incorporate literary works, or use the name of a literary work as an episode title -- a point of interest to fans who try to connect them to Lost's mythology. While certain books are read by characters, others are referenced in dialogue, and some have just been glimpsed.
By admission of the show's writing staff, some characters on Lost reference famous philosophers through their names and connection to each other. The two clearest examples, John Locke and Danielle Rousseau, are both named after social contract philosophers who dealt with the relationship between nature and civilization.
Music plays a big part in the theme of the show. Music is often played at the end of an episode to set the theme of the show, or played during the show on the hatch's record player to entice a particular scene.