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The use of paradox is evident several times throughout the passage, mainly dealing with the heart. I think Brian Doyle’s use of paradox really allows the reader to contemplate about the real meaning behind the story which is jejdidhdh. Doyle characterizes the hummingbird as small and fragile, their heart “the size of a pencil eraser” “However at the same time their heart is quite powerful and robust, capable of beating ten times a second. It’s so powerful that it can drive the hummingbird to be able to visit a thousand flowers a day fly and “fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest.
” Such a small entity, yet so capable of so many amazing things.
This can also be related to life. Life is so powerful, full of so many possibilities yet it is also so fragile. With a snap of a finger, your whole life could be turned upside down only a few moments from death.
The hummingbird is so strong and so able yet it’s so easy for them to die “when they rest they come close to death: on frigid nights, or when they are starving, they retreat into torpor, their metabolism rate slowing to a fifteenth of their normal sleep rate, their heart sludging nearly to a halt, barely beating, and if they are not soon warmed, if they do not soon find that which is sweet, their hearts grow cold, and they seize to be.
One moment they are so full of life with their small, vigorous hearts and the next they seize to be. Its almost as if their strength is also their downfall. The way that Doyle constructs his sentences compels to reader change the way they read the passage. In addition, it also keeps them engaged truly reflect on what is going on without them even realizing it. As Doyle talks about the hummingbird, especially of its heartbeat, he uses short,simplistic sentences that read quickly. This directly correlates to the fast-paced, rhythmic beating of the hummingbird’s heart, literally giving the reader a feel of the franticness and rapidness that the hummingbird endures. “Each one visits a thousand flowers a day. They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backwards.”
Each sentence, no more than seven words, hits back to back in a rapid manner as the hummingbird rapidly moves from place to place without rest, exactly how the reader reads it. A hummingbird lives a short life span of about two years and these sentences take no more than two seconds to read making the two directly reflective of each other. Meanwhile, on the contrary, as he talks about the whale, which can typically live close to one hundred years a much calmer and slower life than that of a hummingbird, Doyle uses much longer and more developed sentences, “It drinks a hundred gallons of milk from its mama every day and gains two hundred pounds a day, and when it is seven or eight years old it endures an unimaginable puberty and then it essentially disappears from human ken, for next to nothing is known of the mating habits, travel patterns, diet, social life, language, social structure, diseases, spirituality, wars, stories, despairs and arts of the blue whale.
In comparison to how he speaks hummingbirds, this reads much slower than the concise sentences that are seen in the hummingbird’s activities. While reading this I felt calmer and not as rushed in the way that this section read. Like a whale’s heart, the sentence has a slow, calming rhythm to it allowing the reader to take time and absorb the information being relayed to them. With the use of imagery, Doyle allows the reader to envision and relate to his stance. When describing the heart of a whale, he metaphorically describes the size of the valves of the whale’s heart as “as big as the swinging doors in a saloon.”
One could literally envision themselves walking through the doors of a saloon and easily compare that to the immensity of the whale’s heart. Furthermore, this even allows the reader to picture themselves walking through the very whale’s heart valves as if it were truly possible. With ease, the very image of the heart is transmitted in a way that the reader can correlate familiarity with which emphasizes its magnitude. This is also evident as he compares the hummingbird’s heart as “the size of a pencil eraser.” Once again the reader is given an object in which they are familiar with in order to emphasize the magnitude (or lack thereof) of the object at hand.
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