Alice Walker has been an activist for most of her life. Walker travels the world to help fight for the poor and the oppressed. She also stands for the revolutionaries who want to transform the world for the better. She is a defender of not only human rights but the rights of animals as well. In her essay “Am I Blue” she discovers the feelings of a horse named Blue. The essay is meant to show a different side of animals and show the audience the human-like traits that horses have. She compares the oppression of the African Americans and American Indians to the way we now treat animals. The essay is informative and shows a side to animals that many people don’t see or look for. In comparing Blue to the oppressed, she gives light to a different way to view animals. Walker uses emotion to help the reader relate to Blue so it is easier for the audience to feel sympathetic toward Blue when his companion is taken from him. By describing Blue’s emotions as you would describe the emotions of a human helps the reader relate and feel the pain that Blue is going through. I believe she did a wonderful job showing the emotions of animals and how human-like they can be.
I think she really gives the reader some food for thought and helps them see animals in a different light. Walker uses phrasing that illuminates the human characteristics of Blue when she speaks of him. Walker’s perceptions of Blue are revealed through the use of description. The use of this technique enables her to present in clear language how immensely related Blue’s behavior aspect is to humans. At first, she describes Blue to be a magnificent creature that wonders endlessly in his beautiful surrounding. However, despite of these vivid surroundings, Blue is lonesome and bored with life. Walker claims that “Blue was lonely. Blue was horribly lonely and bored”, which are emotions that one would expect only a human to have. She stated that she was shocked to see the strange, but familiar look on Blue’s face. Describing her surprised reaction with specific details, she is able to tell us that to look “human” is quite uncommon on animals. Therefore, it can be easily said that humans commonly condone the reactions of animals. Walker then states that even “she had forgotten the depth of feeling one could see in horses’ eyes.”
For example, “I was shocked that I had forgotten that human animals and nonhuman animals can communicate quite well.” For many people, the “human” manifestations of animals are not ignored. Walker’s implication of Blue being bored informs the readers that animals too, can feel isolation. When humans get bored, it is in our reach to abolish it. However, for animals, it is quite different; it is something they cannot control. One of the arguments Walker makes throughout the piece is that man (only associates emotion as capable for humans,) because as a society, we consider the ability to feel emotions as something that is restricted to only humans. Furthermore, our society, or at least the society of the slavery period, believes that human emotions are restricted to those that are white, basically those who are human in the eyes of the dominant white male. Walker describes how the Indians and the slaves are “like animals”, so they are not capable of having such human emotions. When in reality, the ‘animals’ that are discussed in this piece are most likely more capable of displaying these emotions than the white male is. Walker shows the transition of Blue’s emotions as paralleled to the transitions of human emotions through the finding of love and a companion. When the family gets a brown horse for Blue to mate with, Blue becomes attached to this horse, as he shows his feelings of happiness and “this is itness” through the expression in his eyes.
However, Blue becomes sad and disconnected from his happiness when they take the brown horse away. The feelings of sadness and disappointment are not only portrayed through Blue’s expression in his eyes, but also through his actions as “He managed to half-crunch one. The rest he let fall to the ground.” The disappointment and “hatred” seen in Blue’s eyes emphasizes the lack of understanding humans have for the emotions and feelings that animals are capable of, therefore they end up disregarding these feelings because humans need to do what is best for them. You can tell by the look in his eyes that Blue is in love with her; “I forgot the depth of feeling one could see in horses’ eyes.” Blue’s partner and unborn child are then taken away as if “they had been born into slavery.” This idea of humans disregarding the feelings of animals for human selfishness through the use of animals for food is also a main point Walker makes.
She discusses how we do not consider the impact that the methods of production have on the animals. Most humans want to be ignorant on how the animals they eat are killed. She explains this idea of the “contented cows” that we see on our milk containers. We choose to be ignorant so we don’t have to own up to all of the bad things we do as a race. Indians are envied for their land and are therefore slaughtered then called animals or savages to make up for our wrong doings. By reminding us of our ignorance in the past she shows us that we have been wrong before and continue to be wrong when it concerns the rights of animals. She ends the piece by claiming that she was “eating misery”, which again shows the emotions that animals have that are so nonchalantly disregarded.