Analysis of Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay

804 Words May 24th, 2011 4 Pages
Mollie Colon
Comp 111 B04
Mrs. Canella
In Class Essay 1 “Sonny’s Blues” by author James Baldwin tells the tale of two brothers; one good and one evil. The narrator paints the two brothers as “light” and “dark”. The author James Baldwin writes about his relationship with his brother Sonny whom was the “dark” brother. In essence, this story is about the struggle of two black brothers growing up in Harlem. This essay incorporates the struggles that Black men and women go through on a daily basis. Though both brothers were from the ghetto, the narrator seems to have assimilated into the larger society/culture; he was a school teacher doing generally well in what we call life. Sonny on the other hand turned to drugs (heroin) to escape from
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All of these stories are brothers fighting with one another and each brother in all of three stories has the “good” and the “bad” qualities about them. Like previously stated, Sonny was the good brother; so were the Prodigal son and Cain. Tackach also talked about the “cup of trembling” which was a Biblical term that symbolizes sinners that were now redeemed. When the narrator sends Sonny a drink at the end of the story, he claims that it is like the “cup of trembling”. This is another term taken from the Bible to symbolize the relationship between the two brothers. Tackach seems to use biographical and historical criticism when breaking down the story of “Sonny’s Blues”. Like Tackachs, Michael Clark’s criticism ‘Light and Darkness in “Sonny’s Blues”’ also uses the “light” and “darkness” to describe the story. The “light” being the ‘good’ and the “dark” being the ‘bad’ qualities. Unlike Tackachs, Clark uses these terms to refer to the emotions felt by Sonny when he was on drugs, thinking about his life or when playing his piano; his jazz music. In “Sonny’s Blues”, the narrator writes “I feel like a man who’s been trying to climb up out of some deep, real deep and funky hole and just saw the sun up there, outside. I got to get outside.” Clark uses the “funky hole” to describe the darkness and “the sun” to describe the light. To Clark, the whole story is about how Sonny feels and how his music portrays his emotions, his despair and finally his joy.
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