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Harjos Horses Essay

1118 words - 5 pages

Joy Harjo is a Native American poet who uses her heritage as an influence in her writing. She also uses her Native American background to bring awareness to the adversities that they encounter in the society, especially from a feminist point of view. The poem, written in the style of a Native American chant, “She Had Some Horses” gives a voice to a voiceless woman which gives her the opportunity to tell her story and provides her with a sense of worth. In the poem “She Had Some Horses” we can identify various themes throughout the poem that show the influence of her Native American culture and feminist views in her writing.
The poem “She Had Some Horses” describes the metaphorical horses ...view middle of the document...

The reference to the landscape can also emphasize the environment in which the speaker lives in, which ultimately places us in a setting for the poem.
Additionally, we see Harjo place culture appropriation on one of her horses. Culture appropriation is the taking of one culture’s traditions from another culture and adopting them as your own. Native Americans were appropriated when European settlers forced the Native tribes into adopting their cultures or traditions. When Harjo writes, “She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs/She had horses who cried in their beer” (23-24). The “horses” that liked the Creek Stomp dance songs were most likely the people who stayed true to their Native American roots and did not take to the modern traditions of an American lifestyle. Whereas the other “horses” adopted the habit of drinking. This horse appropriates the Native American tradition and trades it for the mainstream society’s tradition. Harjo may also be upset with the horses who “cried in their beer” because Native Americans want to ensure that their traditions of the past and present continue to be passed on so that future generations can draw strength from their past to fight oppression within their society.
Typically, women are known to be indecisive which Harjo’s speaker appears to show in the poem. It also brings to our attention bit a weakness within herself, when she contradicts the “horses” in her life. The speaker states,“She had horses who were fur and teeth/She had horses who were clay and would break(6-7). The horses in the speakers life who were “fur and teeth” were the stronger horses who she could depend on, while the horses who were “clay and would break” are the weaker horses. This line is the poem is contradictory considering that the Native Americans symbolized the horses as being powerful and full of strength. The horses who were of the weaker state were horses who could possibly be looked down upon.
The theme of isolation can also be identified in the poem when the speaker states, “She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts” (39-40). The speaker is fearful of being alone, while carrying a weapon to...

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