Analysis Of James Baldwin 's ' The Blues And Jazz '

2185 Words Dec 14th, 2016 9 Pages
Born in Harlem during the mid-1920s’, author James Baldwin carved for himself a space in literary and intellectual spheres of influence ground in the assertion that “all art is a kind of confession” and that artists must be forced to “vomit the anguish up,” (Gates Jr. 390). Baldwin’s confessional vomit came from his spirit of evangelism with lyrical stylings of both the blues and jazz. Baldwin’s writings appropriate all three of these elements of African-American culture in both small, singular elements and entire story structures. All three styles — as well as Baldwin’s own writing, chronicle the Black response to an oppressive society that seeks to silent them. From the perspective of the narrator, the short story is a blues narrative as he becomes more keenly aware of his brother’s troubles in dealing with suffering. After failing to be his brother’s keeper and passing judgement on Sonny, the narrator soon realizes that everyone suffers and from this suffering comes meaning and beauty, like Sonny’s final song. The release of the narrator’s inner tension and anxiety is the typical ending for a blues narrative. For Sonny, the troubled jazz musician, the story mirrors a Gospel narrative as he rises above his addiction and wades through the deep waters of suffering to play this beautiful music. The drink glowing above his head like the biblical “cup of trembling” points to the reader that Sonny has ascended beyond his troubles. His redemption is near and real. Within these…
Open Document