All the answers already given are very helpful. Black has indeed long been associated, symbolically, with death and evil in western culture. (Whether this is true of other cultures I am not sure.)
What fascinates me about such symbolism is how and why it originally came into existence. Why, of all the colors available, is black the one that tends to be associated with death and evil?
Here are some possibilities:
* Black is often thought of as the opposite of white, in the same way that darkness is often thought of as the opposite of light.
* If black is associated with darkness, then black may be associated with death and evil because we think of death as the absence of light and we think of darkness as a time when it is more likely for evil to occur and the time when it is easier for evil to take place. Dead people, particularly after burial, presumably can no longer see light of any kind, and so this may be one reason that we associate death with blackness.
* Darkness is often associated with fear, with lack of control, with the possibility of danger, and with uncertainty. If we enter a dark room, our immediate instinct is to want to illuminate it. Perhaps these are more reasons that we associated black/darkness with death and with evil and white/light with security and knowledge and what is good. Imagine how much more afraid of the dark our primitive ancestors must have been.
In any case, notice how the imagery of blackness contrasts so strikingly with all the imagery contained in the very first sentence of the story.