Beth Henley`s “Am I Blue

BethHenley`s &quotAm I Blue

Theconfusion of Characters

Thecharacter in the play is John Polk, a seventeen year-old teenagerwaiting to turn eighteen in a New Orleans bar. He is in a state ofconfusion to discover his sense of self. The cause of confusionloneliness as he does not have true friends he can share his psychicconflicts. While waiting for midnight, another teenager called Ashbecomes running towards him. She had just stolen an ashtray and shefeared the attendant could be after her for the stolen goods. Shehides under Polk’s raincoat. This further confuses Polk because theweird girl seemed better than just a bar thief. They both engage indecadence in search of self- identity. In fact they both confess toeach other about their feelings of their unworthiness that bringsconfusion in their life. The interaction of Polk and Ashbe revealstwo people desperately looking for someone to listen. From the waythey speak to each other, the sound like they had been looking froman opportunity from each other. It is unimaginable that Polk waits toget a prostitute from a brothel as a birthday gift from friends. Hisfriend’s weird act of benevolence is enough proof that Polk doesnot have true friends regardless of the fact that he belongs to aclub. The strange aspect of the play is how eccentric charactersexpress their confusion. Polk sips a drink as he looks forward to hisbirthday at midnight. All his friends could give him is a prostitute.Polk’s story shows how a loneliness and lack of self-worth cancause confusion among adolescents. Poll unashamedly reveals hislonely life by telling her,

“Iam a member of a fraternity, but I don’t have true friends,”(Plunka23)

“I am a virgin and I want to face my fears by sleeping with aprostitute,” he says (23).

Ashbeis a child of divorced parents. Her family seems to have been tornapart. While she lives with her father, her sister lives with hermother in a different state. She steals ashtrays in the New Orleans,which one of the many wrong things she does on strangers as she tellsPolk. Ashbe also shares with Polk her frustrations.

Polkand Ashbe develop an affair and they proceed to Ashbe’s absenteefather’s house where they take time to bridge each other’s lonelylife.

Theplay end of the play shows that Polk has developed a sense ofself-worth. Firstly he realizes that he not alone in the lonelyworld. Ashbe tells him how her broken family and absentee father havedistressed her. In her, Polk gets a true friend who he can confide.In him Ashbe finds a friend a lover and a friend she can alsoconfide. At first Polk wanted to “face his fears,” by sleepingwith a prostitute, but now he has a better chance to be intimatewith a person more worthy to break his virginity with. By quicklyrevealing their personal secrets, they are relieved. Polk is relievedand there are chances that he may not go back to the bar in NewOrleans to break his boredom.

Theplay says a lot about what adolescents go through to get a sense ofself-esteem. Friends have a far reaching implication the way growingchildren look at themselves. Polk judges himself based on a pedestalset by his friends. He thinks that by breaking his virginity hebecomes like them. Polk lacks someone he can confide with. He faceshis small world alone until they day he meets Ashbe. After sharinghis troubles with her and having her as an intimate friend he cantrust, he finds the self-worth he has been looking for. Polk finds anew sense of self from the experience after he realizes that he is anormal person going through the same life intrigues as his friends athis age.


Plunka,Gene A. ThePlays of Beth Henley: A Critical Study.McFarland, 2005.