Brian Doyle’s short essay, Joyas Voladoras, focuses on the various aspects of the heart in both animals and humans. In his work, Doyle concentrates on illustrating the significance of the role of the heart in living beings. He offers clear illustrations by using metaphors and shifting from the physical aspect of the heart to its deeper psychological significance. The author provides various distinctive approaches when bringing out the idea of the heart ranging from a solemn tone to a more ordinary one.
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The essay opens with facts about hummingbirds, which is a nice way to attract the readers’ attention, as one becomes interested to know much about this extraordinary bird. The author uses metaphors cleverly to figure out specific details that increase credibility. This credibility spreads throughout the entire essay since known facts back every assumption. Moreover, Doyle targets hyperboles so that to emphasize the originality of the bird: “Joyas Voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white man had never seen such creatures…” (qtd. in Barthlomae, Petrosky, and Waite 147). Concerning the stylistic techniques, which are employed by the author at work, he makes extensive use of connectives. Specifically, he directs his attention to the usage of transformational or identical repetitions. For instance, the tendency may be traced in the following sentences: “A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird” (qtd. in Barthlomae, Petrosky, and Waite 147). The method assists the author in putting a high logical emphasis on the subject of the passage.
In the second paragraph, Doyle explains the mighty talents of the hummingbird, such as having the ability to dive at a speed of six miles per hour or fly long distances without stopping to rest. The author switches quickly to explain the dangers underlying this practice. He tries to communicate to the audience that life can as well be that fragile. He uses the metaphor of the hummingbird to pass the message that people may think to be at the top of a situation, but any time could be a downfall the same way a hummingbird. The bird is compared by the author to many things, which bear some resemblance to a hummingbird. In this way, an extended sentence of vivid comparisons evolves: “Consider for a moment those hummingbirds who did not open their eye again today, this very day, in the Americas: bearded helmet crests and booted racket-tails, violet-tailed sylphs…” (qtd. in Barthlomae, Petrosky, and Waite 147). The technique adds some stylistic empathy to the passage and points out that hummingbird belongs to the rear and fabulous birds, which are vulnerable to multiple threats. The use of simple language and known facts keeps the reader eager to read further through the passages.
The third paragraph provides a mix of ideas, which are explained so that to represent two different lifestyles. Doyle uses the metabolism of the hummingbird as a metaphor to show that the price of their determination is life near to death. Due to their ambition to fly high and fast, hummingbirds suffer from heart attacks, and they burn out more as compared to other creatures. He indicates that hummingbirds live a short life partly due to their ambitious lifestyle. At this point, Doyle suggests that people can as well live their lives the same way as hummingbirds. He compares this kind of life to that of a tortoise. In other words, he specifies that a human being is too lazy so that to realize the potential that is assigned to them by nature. One can choose the hummingbird’s lifestyle and live for a short time. The other option is the tortoise lifestyle, which has nearly two hundred years of existence. Doyle views these two distinct choices as the way people see their lives. Some people are very careful and conservative in their life, and thus they live long.
The other group rarely stops for a break, and thus they keep moving ahead despite the struggles. One of the strengths of this author is that he does not select one option as the best. On the contrary, he merely analyzes the two distinct lifestyles and leaves it for the reader to choose. Indeed, the issue of correctness is quite doubtful in this case since some individuals argue that it is extremely exciting and right to live a short but adventurous life, for, in the end, one never recollects the specific time frames. Instead, one remembers the moments. The other people, however, claim that a person was given life so that to appreciate and value it. Therefore, it is crucial to be careful about one’s deeds and to avoid risks so that to remain safe and sound. The connectivity of the sentences in the third passage is vividly demonstrated through the extensive use of repetitive pronouns. For instance, a chain of statements starts with the personal pronoun you: “You burn out. You fry the machine” (qtd. in Barthlomae, Petrosky, and Waite 148). In this way, Doyle does not only make the speech flowing and connected, but he emphasizes that a bird’s lifestyle may be identified with one of a living being.
Doyle remains decisive in the fourth paragraph in the way he compares the whale’s heart by using a metaphor of a room. He expounds this comparison by introducing a metaphor in which the heart is viewed as big room enough for a child to walk through. He makes a simple comparison between the heart of a hummingbird and that of a blue whale for the reader to visualize how each heart sustains different creatures despite the size disparities. Doyle uses the metaphor of the whale’s big heart to symbolize shelter, care, and love. The vividness of the example is demonstrated through the usage of graphical violations. Mainly, the author emphasizes an enormous size of the heart in the following way: “It is waaaaaaay bigger than your car” (qtd. in Barthlomae, Petrosky, and Waite 148). Through this simple comparison, the reader might also perceive that the author scrutinizes the difference between the mercantile values of a human and the kindness of an animal, which reveals an immense affection and love towards its mates. He shows that blue whales travel in pairs because they care about each other. The author often switches from facts to speculations to enable the reader to create a secure link to the text. This persistent shift brings out the paradox of the heart, which appears strong even though it is a delicate house of one’s emotions. If people could learn to love each other and go through life slower, then they could enjoy long life span.
Doyle uses the fifth passage to crown his message of life and love through the metaphor of the heart. Specifically, he compares different types of creatures with their distinct hearts. For instance, the author examines the fragility of the heart by depicting it as the human beings’ little shelter that they fight to sustain, but later the sustention comes to halt depending on the choice of lifestyle. The central point of the work emphasizes that the heart has so much to treasure, be it in a lifetime, in a day, or a moment. In other words, the author simply wants to show the reader the importance of life and letting people inside their heart. Consequently, Doyle passes the message that people should not be afraid or selective in letting others inside their hearts. Moreover, in this paragraph, Doyle dwells on the fact that the quality of life, as well as its mere existence, does not depend on the size of the heart. No matter whether a heart has four huge room-like chambers or no chambers at all, it still signifies living: “No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside” (qtd. in Barthlomae, Petrosky, and Waite 149). It must be noted, though, that this passage does not contain any metacommentary, which damages the quality of message perceiving. The author provides single descriptions of animals’ and human hearts. Afterward, he moves to the conclusion, according to which life may exist in various forms. However, he does not connect the descriptions to the conclusion, which damages the general flow of verbal means.
The final paragraph of the story provides some grieving shade to the writing. Thus, in this passage the author disillusions the naivety of eternal life. According to him, every story has its logical end. Moreover, this end often comes in an unexpected form or inappropriate time. Some human beings do not succeed to realize their dreams and aspirations in a lifetime. That is why, they are passing away with some sad reminiscences that remind them of their beloved people or those, who left them. In fact, the author disclaims the existence of eternal love as well since he claims that close people never stay with us forever. Throughout our lives, we encounter multiple individuals, who are our sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives. Though we believe that these people serve as our constant support, they tend to disappear from our lives at definite moments. Consequently, Doyle argues that we remain with our hearts in solitude at the end of our lives.
In conclusion, Doyle succeeds in the way he uses metaphors through hearts to demonstrate the theme of life and love. This passage is short, but it is rich with real life lessons. For instance, the use of the hummingbird to explain a precious but fast-paced life is well articulated. Even though he does not rule out this kind of life, he sees it as more dangerous as compared to the life of a tortoise that goes through a gradual but long life. Doyle shows how human beings go through their lives. Through the metaphor of the whale’s heart and the fact that whales move in pairs, Doyle passes the message of love. Ultimately, in writing about hearts, Doyle does not intend to supply his readers with facts about the heart but demonstrate its psychological power and the importance of cherishing every moment in life.
Barthlomae, David, Anthony Petrosky, and Stacey Waite. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 10th ed. 2014. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. Print.