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Analyzing Animal Behavior in “Am I Blue” by Bruce Coville

In his book, “Am I Blue”, author Bruce Coville sheds light on the complex and varied behaviors of animals. Through a series of short stories, Coville invites readers to ponder the emotional lives of non-human creatures and challenges our preconceived notions about the sentience and depth of these beings. This essay aims to explore the animal behaviors portrayed in the book, examining the author’s intentions and the larger implications of his work.

One of the key ideas expressed in “Am I Blue” is the presence of emotions in animals. Coville utilizes anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to non-human beings, to enable readers to empathize with the animals depicted in his stories. By employing this literary device, Coville effectively bridges the gap between humans and animals and prompts readers to consider animals as emotional beings.

In the title story, “Am I Blue,” Coville introduces a horse named Blue who exhibits deep sadness following the loss of his equine companion. Coville describes Blue’s eyes as “empty and dead” and witnesses the horse withdrawing from any interaction with humans. Through this portrayal, Coville emphasizes the emotional pain that Blue experiences from his loss, inviting readers to recognize and empathize with the horse’s grief. This evokes the question of whether animals, like humans, are capable of experiencing and expressing complex emotions.

A second theme Coville addresses in “Am I Blue” is the issue of captivity and its effect on animal behavior. In the story “The Intruder,” Coville tells the tale of a caged wolf longing for freedom. The protagonist wolf, confined to a zoo enclosure, reveals feelings of frustration and resentment towards humans. Coville skillfully depicts the wolf’s inner thoughts, highlighting his yearning for the wild and his fierce desire to assert his independence. This tale exposes the damaging impact of captivity on an animal’s natural behavior and explores the ethical implications of confining animals for human entertainment.

Furthermore, Coville utilizes narrative variation to express different perspectives on animal behavior throughout the book. In “The Dare,” Coville switches to a first-person narrative, allowing readers to experience the world through the eyes of a raccoon named Bandit. By adopting the raccoon’s perspective, Coville offers a unique insight into the animal’s motivations and actions. Through Bandit’s narrative, readers witness the raccoon’s drive to protect its territory and secure sustenance for its family. This story offers an opportunity for readers to reflect on the complex decision-making processes of animals and challenges our assumptions about their behavior.

Coville also takes on the subject of anthropocentrism and the misconceptions it fosters about animal behavior. In the story “Old Bones,” a young boy discovers a set of dinosaur bones and, with the assistance of a magical artifact, brings the dinosaurs back to life. Once resurrected, the dinosaurs exhibit behaviors that challenge the traditional stereotypes associated with them. The herbivorous dinosaurs display their intelligence and compassion, while the carnivorous ones show restraint and a lack of inherent aggression. Through this narrative, Coville confronts the rigid categorization of animals based on their perceived nature and highlights the importance of recognizing the individuality and complexity of animal behavior.

Coville’s “Am I Blue” serves as a thought-provoking exploration of animal behavior and challenges readers to reconsider their assumptions about non-human creatures. Through the use of anthropomorphism, narrative variation, and the exploration of captivity and anthropocentrism, Coville effectively exposes the emotional depth and complexity of animals. By presenting animals’ unique perspectives, Coville encourages empathy and understanding, making “Am I Blue” a significant contribution to the study of animal behavior and welfare.