Joyas Voladoras Analysis: the Heart of Life and Love

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Joyas Voladoras Analysis: the Heart of Life and Love

Joyas Voladoras, written by Brian Doyle, is a poignant essay that delves into the intricacies of the heart, both literally and metaphorically. This overview analyzes how Doyle uses the hummingbird’s heart as a central metaphor to explore themes of life, love, and vulnerability. It examines the essay’s narrative technique, which intertwines scientific facts about the heart with philosophical musings on human emotions and connections. The piece reflects on the essay’s message about the fragility and resilience of the heart, and how this symbolizes the broader human experience of love, pain, and the transience of life. At PapersOwl, you’ll also come across free essay samples that pertain to Fiction.

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When we think of a heart, we may commonly relate it to love, emotion, life, death, or just a regular organ. In Brian Doyle’s short essay, Joyas Voladoras, he distinguishes animals and human life in a very interesting way. From what I read, in general, he uses metaphorical language throughout the story to address the concepts of relationships, life, and how we live. His depictions and comparisons of humans and different creatures show how similar we all are. The many various animals the author observes all subsist with this keyword, heart, which overall reflects human behavior, such as how fast or how slow we live life and the relationships we put ourselves into.

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Hummingbirds: The Joyas Voladoras

The story starts off with the hummingbirds, which are portrayed as joyas voladoras or flying jewels. They are characteristically similar to birds. What makes them unique is how completely fast they are. Doyle then goes on to mention other living creatures through their sheer sizes and expertise. Through all these animals’ abilities, the sizes of their hearts, and how fast they are, the author figuratively compares them to human hearts.

Throughout the passages, Doyle gives detail on the hummingbird’s traits and their capabilities as they have small hearts similar to a pencil eraser that beats ten times a second, they visit a thousand flowers a day, and they can fly hundreds of miles without becoming exhausted. As said before, they are overall speedy. According to the story, the significance of their speed is compared to the speed of how we humans live. The thing about going fast is considered harmful, as Doyle implies through this quote,” The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature .” In this, the author illustrates how quick a hummingbird’s life is.

Living Fast and Slow: The Hummingbird vs. the Tortoise

Through us humans, when we live a fast life, our lives would also be considered a life closer to death. In other words, we do not cherish the experience or the time we have slowly as we exist in this world. In opposition to this is the tortoise, as the author compares them to the hummingbirds. The tortoise opposes the Humminbird as stated in this quote,” You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.” What this conveys are the two choices and viewpoints on how we spend our lives. When we live slowly, we take our time, enjoy life, and take pleasure in anything we perceive. In general, these comparisons are perspectives the author gives on how humans normally live. From this quote,” Every creature on Earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime.” This shows that no matter how fast or slow your heart is, there is still a limit. Everyone lives life differently, and what I think the author is trying to say is to mostly live every bit of detail in your life.

Blue Whales and Human Relationships

Other than the perspectives of living fast or slow, the author also compares humans to blue whales. The blue whales, as stated, are very large creatures in that their bodies are comparable to rooms with four chambers easily able to fit children. What makes blue whales and humans similar is this quote,” But we know this: the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs.” What Doyle may be trying to represent among these blue whales would be human relationships or love. A big heart, metaphorically, means that you are compassionate, kind, and caring. With this comparison, blue whales and humans relate. This quote,” Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart,” shows that humans, in general, do not like being lonely. Social needs are what is a part of human nature which is why we form friendships and bonds with others. It is why we also love and build relationships with one another.

Embracing Life and Love: Doyle’s Perspective

However, love sometimes leads to pain, as the author then points out in this quote,” that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore.” This portrays that as we love, there comes a time when it does not work out. We become sad as our hearts feel harrowed due to who we desired no longer being there. In time, our hearts recover from this, but as the author said, they will now remain weak. Overall, this shows the outlook of love the author gives. Any creature that is able to form and build friendships truly knows how to care for each other, leading to this closer bond of love. Although situations of how we love are different, the concept of it is the same. We first go through love, then break up, then love again as if it is a cycle. This is pretty much similar to everyone’s case, which I think the author is trying to say here.


Throughout the story, Doyle’s perspective on life and love is portrayed through these animals. In the long run, the story shows that whatever your heart size or how fast it is, we should cherish life and care for those around us better. Also that although times are hard, we tend to move on as time passes.


  1. Doyle, B. (2004). Joyas Voladoras. The American Scholar, 73(4), 13-25.


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Joyas Voladoras Analysis: The Heart of Life and Love. (2023, Aug 03). Retrieved from