Sentence Variety in Alice Walker's Essay 'Am I Blue?'

A Scrapbook of Styles

Alice Walker
Novelist, essayist, and poet Alice Walker. (Jemal Countess/WireImage/Getty Images)

Alice Walker's essay "Am I Blue?" is a powerful meditation on the effects of slavery and the nature of freedom. In these opening paragraphs, Walker introduces the central emblem of the essay, a horse named Blue. Notice how Walker relies on a variety of sentence structures (including participial phrases, adjective clauses, appositives, and adverb clauses) to hold our attention as she develops her affectionate description.

From "Am I Blue?"*

by Alice Walker

1 It was a house of many windows, low, wide, nearly floor to ceiling in the living room, which faced the meadow, and it was from one of these that I first saw our closest neighbor, a large white horse, cropping grass, flipping its mane, and ambling about--not over the entire meadow, which stretched well out of sight of the house, but over the five or so fenced-in acres that were next to the twenty-odd that we had rented. I soon learned that the horse, whose name was Blue, belonged to a man who lived in another town, but was boarded by our neighbors next door. Occasionally, one of the children, usually a stocky teen-ager, but sometimes a much younger girl or boy, could be seen riding Blue. They would appear in the meadow, climb up on his back, ride furiously for ten or fifteen minutes, then get off, slap Blue on the flanks, and not be seen again for a month or more.

2 There were many apple trees in our yard, and one by the fence that Blue could almost reach. We were soon in the habit of feeding him apples, which he relished, especially because by the middle of summer the meadow grasses--so green and succulent since January--had dried out from lack of rain, and Blue stumbled about munching the dried stalks half-heartedly.

Sometimes he would stand very still just by the apple tree, and when one of us came out he would whinny, snort loudly, or stamp the ground. This meant, of course: I want an apple.

*The essay "Am I Blue?" appears in Living by the Word, by Alice Walker (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988).

Selected Works by Alice Walker

  • Meridian, novel (1976)
  • The Color Purple, novel (1982)
  • In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, nonfiction (1983)
  • Living by the Word, essays (1988)
  • Possessing the Secret of Joy, novel (1992)
  • The Complete Stories (1994)
  • Collected Poems (2005)

Also see
10 Rhetorical Study Questions: Figures of Speech in Context​

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Nordquist, Richard. "Sentence Variety in Alice Walker's Essay 'Am I Blue?'." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/sentence-variety-in-alice-walkers-essay-1692357. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, March 3). Sentence Variety in Alice Walker's Essay 'Am I Blue?'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sentence-variety-in-alice-walkers-essay-1692357 Nordquist, Richard. "Sentence Variety in Alice Walker's Essay 'Am I Blue?'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sentence-variety-in-alice-walkers-essay-1692357 (accessed November 18, 2017).