James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” was a great tale of the struggles shared between two brothers in Harlem in 1957. This story is about two African American brothers who, unfortunately, grew apart as the aged. The plot shows the struggles the two brothers faced as they grew up in Harlem, and in return, the two drastically different paths they perused. James Baldwin was an African American who grew up in Harlem in the 1930s and 40s. Baldwin was the oldest of nine children, and grew up in a very poor family, having a very bad relationship with his stepfather. Baldwin followed in his stepfather’s footsteps in becoming a preacher, but as he was studying to do so, he realized that his true calling was to become a writer. Baldwin …show more content…
The narrator says that he “couldn’t believe it: but what I mean by that is I couldn’t find any room for it anywhere inside me. I had kept it outside me for a long time. I hadn’t wanted to know” (Baldwin600). The narrator and Sonny haven’t spoken much since the death of their mother. The narrator wanted Sonny to stay in school and finish, and Sonny wanted to drop out and join the army or the navy, and then chase his dream of being a jazz piano player. Sonny agreed to stay in school at first, but after a while, he stopped going and eventually ran away and joined the army. After not hearing from Sonny in years, the narrator heard from him out of nowhere when he was deployed in Greece. Both Sonny and the narrator were living in New York years after the war was over. They would meet sometimes, but it would always result in a fight, and eventually the narrator and Sonny stopped speaking. Before their mother died, she told the narrator to look after his brother. She said “it ain’t only the bad ones, nor yet the dumb ones that gets sucked under” (Baldwin607). So when Sonny got arrested for heroin, the narrator felt some guilt and that it was sort of his fault, but at the same time, he felt that he wanted nothing to do with him and his troubles. The narators confusion on the matter was put to a rest when he ran into one of Sonny’s friends right after the arrest, and his friend made it clear that as soon as Sonny got out he would go
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Sonny understands this notion and yearns to enlist in the Navy; he was ready to lie about his age. He thought, “if I say I’m old enough, they’ll believe me”, this signifies how eager Sonny was to have the understanding and acceptance that his older brother had. After Sonny returned from the Navy, the narrator still imaged him as someone who “carried himself, loose and dreamlike all the time”. He thought that Sonny had lost all prospects of reality and unfortunately his thoughts came out to be true. The narrators’ time spent in the military allowed him to make that judgment, therefore the setting of the military service established such an identity for the narrator, which made him successful in life and allowed him to help others as well. Also Sonny wanted to enlist in the army so it would take him away from the “killing streets” of Harlem and give him the opportunity to get a college education on the GI Bill.
In James Baldwin’s short story, Sonny’s Blues, he describes a story of pain and prejudice. The theme of suffering makes the readers relate to it. The story is told in the realistic point of view of Sonny’s brother. The setting and time of the story also has great significance to the story. From beginning to end, the story is well developed.
At the beginning of the story, the narrator refused to communicate with Sonny after learning he went to jail. Sonny’s old friend approached him, and they had a long discussion about Sonny. The narrator thought Sonny was trying to kill himself by overdosing, but Sonny’s friend insisted that “ ‘he don’t want to die. He wants to live.’ ” The narrator didn’t realize how much his brother was struggling to stay alive and how he used drugs to cope. He eventually wrote a letter to Sonny after his daughter died. He knew one thing about Sonny: he was a very private person. “It doesn’t do any good to fight with Sonny. Sonny just moves back, inside himself, where he can’t be reached.” This privacy kept his brother from ever getting to know him.
In the short story, Sonny’s Blues, by James Baldwin, there are two brother that live in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. The older brother, whose name is never mentioned, was given responsibility of Sonny by their mother before she passed away. Sonny is the younger of the two and wants to be a jazz pianist, but his older brother does not understand this, while he is an algebra school teacher. Sonny and his brother stop communicating. Later, the older brother is going to his job when he sees in the newspaper that his younger brother, Sonny, had been arrested for selling and possessing cocaine, or as it is called in the story, horse. Sonny’s brother never writes Sonny in jail until his daughter, Grace, died of polio. After Sonny gets out of jail, they begin to get close and his brother starts to appreciate Sonny’s love for jazz.
“Sonny’s Blues” is a narration about two siblings – brothers - who choose very different routes in life in order to accomplish the zenith of individualism, expressionism and recognition. In doing so, they take a glimpse into one another’s spheres and learn to assent and appreciate each other for who they are. In 1951, Baldwin wrote Sonny’s Blues, a story of the ills that Harlem provided its youth. In Baldwin’s telling of the narration, it forms a nous of liberation, an atmosphere of therapeutic acceptance for the author, in which Baldwin develops to express his own state through his virtuoso of storytelling. To put it inanely, Baldwin has such a fine grasp of the linguistic and such great urge to interpret that he can move even his stoutest detractors to emotion and response.
“Sonny’s Blues” revolves around the narrator as he learns who his drug-hooked, piano-playing baby brother, Sonny, really is. The author, James Baldwin, paints views on racism, misery and art and suffering in this story. His written canvas portrays a dark and continual scene pertaining to each topic. As the story unfolds, similarities in each generation can be observed. The two African American brothers share a life similar to that of their father and his brother. The father’s brother had a thirst for music, and they both travelled the treacherous road of night clubs, drinking and partying before his brother was hit and killed by a car full of white boys. Plagued, the father carried this pain of the loss of his brother and bitterness
While reading “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin theme, symbolism, and motifs were discovered throughout the entire short story. Sonny one of the two main characters, is dealing with a drug addiction and is now following his dreams of becoming a jazz musician. The narrator, whose name was never given, does his best to keep the promise he made his mother years ago, to be his brother’s keeper.
In the short story “Sunny Blues” by James Baldwin it is nothing more than the distance between two estranged brothers. As well coming to understanding the pain, suffering, frustration, and triumphs your brother have endured. The story takes places in Harlem NY, more around 1950 around the Harlem Renaissance, a time of poverty, drugs, violence around the African American community. The characters include Sunny, who is the opposite of his brother. He’s a musician, outgoing, he lives in the present, sympathetic, set his own rules, and content with his life choices. The narrator, Sunny brother he judgmental, he lives in the past as everyone he meets he create a little history about them. He does not know how to express his emotions. Isabel the wife and mother of the
Fictional writing is generally done just to entertain readers. Some authors create stories with a singular point of view, while others introduce more complex plots and storylines. When it comes to author James Baldwin’s short story Sonny’s Blues, there is much depth given to the storyline and the characters. Sonny’s Blues has been analyzed by many different people throughout time because the story has many elements. From Baldwin’s skillful use of metaphors and similes to his incorporation of religious references, this story is insightfully and complexly written. A simple story about a man and his brother leaves readers with an inside look into family, drug addiction, socioeconomic struggles in the Black community, and the language of Jazz
The narrator Sonny’s older brother had a difficult time accepting that his youngest brother had fallen victim to the Harlem streets. The narrator discovers that Sonny has been arrested in a drug raid for using and selling heroin, and that information did not sit well with him, he then began to reminisce on the brother he once knew, he remembered the brightness and livelihood he once endured. The narrator had been a teacher and he often saw the same potential in the students that he had once saw in Sonny, on the way home narrator had ran into an old friend of Sonny’s. Sonny’s friend had also been a drug addict, the narrator and the friend began to talk about Sonny and how his life was and how it would continue to be. Time passed and the narrator did not reach out to Sonny, until his youngest daughter Grace dies. He wrote to Sonny explaining why he ended where he was in life. Sonny
This sort of environment becomes extremely toxic when children grow old enough to realize how narrow their options are, filling them with rage. As a teenager struggling with the mental anguish of living in Harlem’s projects, Sonny distracts himself by playing the piano. It states, “He was at the piano all day Saturday and all day Sunday… Isabel finally confessed it wasn’t like living with a person at all, it was like living with sound” (152). Prior to this passage, Sonny expresses the urge to join the army or navy in order to escape Harlem, showing that he’s willing to risk his life to fulfill his goal. However, after being told he has to wait until he graduates high school, Sonny fills his time with music to avoid facing the depressing reality of his neighborhood. This shows that music is powerful and distracting enough for him to forget his issues, which is why he plays it so often. Unfortunately, Sonny succumbs to heroin once he returns to Harlem after the war. Similar to music, drugs are one way people cope with bleakness, although they merely provide a guise of comfort while simultaneously destroying the person dependent on them. Nevertheless, Sonny returns to music after prison,
In James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues,” one of the most pertinent themes throughout the story is the contrast and duality of light and darkness. More specifically, the author explores this theme by using light and darkness to explain the characters coming to terms with their realities and the realities of many people who live in their community. The theme also is key in explaining the relationship between Sonny and the narrator. In this paper, I intend to explain the significance of the tension of identifying one’s reality in “Sonny’s Blues,” by exploring the many instances that Baldwin uses light and darkness to explore one’s reality.
In the story “Sonny’s Blues”, written by James Baldwin, the narrator and his younger brother, Sonny, interact with musical elements that serve as a redemption for Sonny. Baldwin believes in the power of music to rescue or minimize the suffering that people go through. Both characters isolate themselves with several instances of music and issue their reactions toward it. Sonny is an uprising musician that wants to portray his life by playing the piano. This story is about Sonny’s Blues. His sadness about his escape from his childhood, his frustration with being a musician, as well as the lack of support from his brother, when he knew that Sonny was hurting the most, are expressed through the wooden black and white keys. At first, Sonny uses
“Sonny’s Blues” is a touching story of transformation for the narrator and his brother. After spending time in prison for possession of heroin, Sonny comes back home to meet a very hostile and unforgiving brother. The story is set in the predominately African American projects of Harlem, New York where drug abuse and violence are quite rampant. The projects according to Baldwin are: “rocks in the middle of a boiling sea” (112). This description highlights the awful state of affairs. Life conditions in Harlem are worsened by the fact that there are no opportunities for Blacks to empower themselves economically and to liberate themselves from
“Sonny’s Blues,” which is an outstanding short story by James Baldwin, describes many obstacles in lifestyles and relationships of African-Americans in the influential time of post Harlem Renaissance and discrimination in the 1950s. In the end of the story, the nightclub setting is the most important and emotional turning point of the brotherhood between narrator and his young brother, Sonny. After many conflicts and arguments about their different ideals and lifestyles, Sonny tries to open his heart to let his brother understand him by inviting the narrator to come to his jazz music performance at a small nightclub in Greenwich Village. At this place, he meets friends of Sonny, acquaint himself with jazz music and tries to get into Sonny’s world. He carefully observes any changes of his brother on the stage. Sonny is nervous and has trouble in the beginning of the performance. However, Sonny quickly gets back on track. His music seems to touch everyone, including his brother, by its beauty and freedom. The narrator becomes proud of Sonny. Eventually, he recognizes his brother’s talent and understands that Sonny was born to be a real musician.