Comedic Juxta position In Beth Henleys play, Am I Blue, two main characters are presented. The two characters, Ashbe and John Polk, exert diverse personality traits, which cause comedic situations to arise within the play. It is often the case in comedy that two characters will present characters that obtain various apparent differences. Ashbe has an overtly eccentric personality while that of John Polk is comparatively mild and plain. From the moment the two become acquainted, amusement ensues due to their juxtaposition and the situation in which they find each other. By analyzing both Ashbe and John Polks similarities and differences, the factors that create this comedy are found.
Ashbe, a blatantly outspoken and unconventional sixteen year old is a girl of nonstop chitchat. She, in her jeweled cat-eye glasses, feels free to express her opinion concerning whatever subject arises. Ashbe attends high school and to her, having the right friends means acceptance in todays world. However, she is alienated and considered an outcast worthy of being teased and ridiculed by the very group by which she wishes to be accepted. Comparatively, John Polk is a shy and level headed seventeen year-old who attends college as a freshman where he is also in a fraternity with his brother.
Like Ashbes desire for acceptance, John wants to be acknowledged by his fraternity brothers. However, he does not want to experience rejection for thinking or acting against the crowd and admits to Ashbe that his brother convinced him to join the fraternity. In contrast to Johns conformity, Ashbe is a free spirited artistic person who believes in expressing individuality. Whether she is putting blue food coloring in drinks, making paper hats, or stringing Cheerios together to make a necklace, she expresses her individuality. By doing this, she attempts to show John how important it is for him to be his true self as she bridges the loneliness that infuses them both.
John Polk and Ashbe also come from different family structures. John comes from a tight knit family who owns their own soybean farm. His father hopes that John will attend business school and help manage the family farm. However, he wants to do something else with his life. When Ashbe asks him what he would like to become, he states, I dont know. I wanted to be a minister or something good, but I dont even know if I believe in God (1:1:280). John expresses that he wants to be a minister however, his problems in life are breaking his spirit and his belief in God diminishes as he fill his life with immoral acts like meeting up with hookers. John also says, I never used to worry about being a failure.
Now, I think about it all the time. Its just I need to do something thats fulfilling (1:1:282). So, it is evident that John does not believe managing the soybean farm is rewarding. Even though he does not want to work on the farm, John feels obligated to please his father. In contrast, Ashbe comes from a impoverish family and lives in a messy dilapidated apartment with her father, who leaves her there alone. She has very little contact with her mother and sister due to the fact that they live in Atlanta. Ashbe expresses her loneliness with creativity she learned from her mother. She also tries to help John explore his own ambitions and not allow others to make his decisions for him.
John is accustomed to a fast paced life of parties, booze, honking horns (1:1:34) and realizes that the reality of adulthood looms ahead as he concludes that life on the soybean farm is different from fraternity life. He is now in a predicament since his fraternity brothers have gotten him a prostitute for his eighteenth birthday so that he can become a man. He is nervous and apprehensive about the situation and exercises poor judgment when he states, Oh God, I need to get drunk (1:1:115). John resorts to drinking alcohol when confronted with his problems in order to escape his worries. In contrast, Ashbe is a social person and is not afraid to tell people the truth about themselves or their situation. She is quick to tell John what she thought of him when she said, You think I want to be in some group a sheep like you? A little sheep like you that does everything when hes supposed to do it! (1:1:257).
It is irrefutable that what ultimately makes Am I Blue a comedy is the divergence between Ashbe and John Polk. In looking at the aspects that compose both characters, its obvious that the differences are present as well as the obscure similarities. Humor is found in the revelation of diversity as well as the fact that they are more similar than they seem at first.
Henley, Beth. Am I Blue. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 3rd Compact ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006. 1183-98.