Living by the Word by Alice Walker Review

Alice Walker is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. She is also a major contributor to the Civil Rights movement in America through her writings and stories of the hard times in the South for African Americans. Walker devotes her writings to the life of African American women and their experiences in the South.

Living by the Word: Selected Writings 1973-1987 is an excellent collection of letters, journal extracts, and essays written by Alice Walker, a Pulitzer Prize winner. In this collection of essays and journal entries, the author represents her inner world full of intimate details such as her poor and difficult childhood in rural Georgia, her feelings, how happy she is to choose plants for her garden or colors to paint her house, relationship with her father and her smoking daughter Rebecca, animal rights, and many more.

An essay of particular interest is called “Am I Blue?”. In this essay, the main idea is revealed through the author’s skillful use of metaphors and other stylistic devices. The figure of the protagonist is symbolic and chosen by the author on purpose. Through the use of stylistic means, the narrator tries to convey the idea that human beings and animals are fellow creatures sharing common feelings, with equal rights and fair treatment.

At first glance, the story is about a horse named Blue and a woman who likes it. She is telling the story and mentions her experiences, feelings, and ideas; thus, she is the narrator of the story. Thus, in the essay, the first-person point of view belongs to author Alice Walker and everything that happens in the story is told to us from her perspective. Nevertheless, the central character or the protagonist is a horse named Blue.


In the story, the narrator does some hard thinking about the relationship between humans and animals. By using such phrases as “Blue was lonely. Blue was horribly lonely and bored” (Walker), the author personifies the horse and endows it with human characteristics. The author’s description highlights the development of the main character’s emotions. She wants society to understand the idea that animals have the ability to feel the same emotions such as love, compassion, and pain. Moreover, due to Walker’s skillful use of stylistic devices, for example, metaphors, another important idea is revealed: during the period of slavery, human emotions are a privilege of people. Thus, those who do not belong to the white race are devoid of the ability to feel emotions. On the contrary, in the story, it is shown that even a horse has emotions.People take care of the horse, but they do not think that it can experience any feelings or emotions.

Moreover, one of the main themes in the story is the nature of pain and how deep pain can consume not only human beings, but animals as well.

Thus, the essay “Am I Blue?” written from the author’s point of view is a very interesting way of representation of the main character’s emotions, feelings, thoughts, and communication development. Also, it can be recognized as a method of conveying important information through a skillful choice of literary devices. The main purpose of the author is to show the reader that humans and horses have much in common. She emphasizes that humanity should respect animals and that animals are able to teach people honesty, purity, and simplicity. Finally, the essay “Am I Blue?” is a brilliant example of meditation on the effects of slavery on people and the nature of freedom.

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