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Brian Doyle’s Essay “Joyas Voladoras”

The essay provides a number of distinctive approaches towards the idea of a heart, varying from a serious and scientific tone to a more colloquial one. The immediate start with a startling fact attracts the reader’s attention as the passage is referring to something superlative, “the biggest heart in the world”. The author cleverly includes specific details to back up previous speculations to maintain the essay’s credibility which is seen throughout the entire passage as each assumption is followed by a known fact. Furthermore, the author chooses to compare the heart through the use of a simple simile to a room but then directly enhances this image by applying a metaphor in which the heart “is a room”, easy for a child to walk through. We see that this metaphor helps the reader imagine the magnitude of the whale’s heart as he pictures himself wondering inside of it, passing through the valves “as big as the swinging doors in a saloon.”

The fact that the reader is able to compare the heart to a familiar object makes it easier to grasp the exact image that the author is transmitting and makes it much more understandable as he is able to picture exploring this beast’s insides. Next, we see how the author chooses to personify the heart as a house that drives this colossal creature through the oceans, stressing the importance of the role of the heart. Once again the fictitious image is followed by an accurate fact, in this case about the animal’s size in order to remain convincing throughout the entire passage. The use of constant numbers, proportions and comparisons lets the reader establish a clear awareness of the whale’s exact size as it allows the reader to compare and comprehend in a more clear and familiar manner. Comparisons such as ” it is way bigger than your car”, allow the reader to see the whale in proportion to something well known.

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When we are told that the whale ” drinks a hundred gallons of milk” and “gains two hundred pounds a day” is it easy to imagine the immensity of this creature through this accurate reference to quantitative measurements. We see that the author chooses to illustrate the mystery of the blue whale through a contrast between a serious illustration of the whale’s path to “unimaginable puberty” after which they appear to disappear and the humorous speculation about the little amount known of the whale’s ” spirituality, wars, stories, despairs, and arts of the blue whale”. This idea of the whale being such a mysterious beast proves to be particularly paradoxical as it is placed right after a vivid description of the whale’s colossal size.

The middle paragraph can be considered a clever structural characteristic that serves as a transition from the accurate depiction of the physical features of the whale’s heart and shifting to a more psychological and emotional aspect of the heart by insinuating that all living beings are united by their hearts, “we all churn inside”. The final paragraph primarily serves to create a metaphor for the heart which takes on a personal and expressive point of view to show the true side of human affairs. The idea of us living “alone in the house of the heart”, shows how detached humans truly are from one another, merely opening “windows” to each other when truly being petrified of exposing ourselves, scared of a “harrowed heart”. This metaphor shows how shallow our relations with other people actually are; as we communicate from within this “house of a heart” and refuse to fully open up.

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We live in this house which appears to contain our entire life, growing bigger each day, moment and hour. The author illustrates this “house of a heart” as something that we strive to keep strong but constantly gets damaged by heartbreaks and despairs that life inevitably leads us to, be it melancholic memories from the past or tragic incidents from the present. The author chooses to finish the passage by tackling the fragility of the heart, portraying it as our personal little house that we struggle to re-enforce but “down it comes in an instant”. This idea of having a weak and delicate heart proves to be particularly controversial to the very start of the passage where we are provided with a thorough account of the whale’s immense and powerful heart which drives such an enormous creature through its life.

In conclusion, this passage provides the reader with two distinctive approaches to the heart, physical and emotional. The author’s persistent jump from fact to speculation allows the reader to establish a stronger connection with the text which contributes to creating the paradoxical image of the heart, appearing strong but merely being a fragile shelter for one’s true emotions. The way that the author has been able to keep the image of the “house of a heart” serves to establish a connection between the two contrasting arguments exposed in the first and third paragraphs of the text.

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Brian Doyle's Essay "Joyas Voladoras". (2021, May 25). Retrieved September 30, 2022, from