When Sonny moves in with the family, he is given the expectation to finish college and stay out of trouble. Sonny has other ideas though and skips his classes to go to the local jazz club and play music. When the narrator first learns of Sonny’s antics he is very disappointed and is frustrated that Sonny continues to pursue a musical career. He believes it is part of the reason that Sonny has had so much trouble in the past and doesn’t believe it is a positive thing for his brother. Sonny is immediately kicked out and the two go for another extended period of time until talking again. Eventually the narrator has another change of heart and invites his brother to live with him again and Sonny agrees. The two struggle to communicate so one day Sonny invites the narrator to come watch him play at the jazz club and it is then that the narrator truly understands his younger brother. He is watching Sonny play with a group of musicians when he sees “Sonny’s face is trouble” (Baldwin 254) with the difficulty in
At first he turns to music to fix his problems, and then heroin. Sonny left school, and joined the navy to get as far away from Harlem as he possibly could. When Sonny returns from prison, he tried explaining to his brother what music does for him, “"It's not so much to play. It's to stand it, to be able to make it at all. On any level"(Baldwin). He frowned and smiled: "In order to keep from shaking to pieces."” He didn’t want to be a prisoner of Harlem anymore, but became a prisoner to heroin. At first Sonny did not feel that heroin was necessarily a bad thing, “"It makes you feel-in control. Sometimes you've got to have that feeling" (Baldwin). Sonny feels that even while all doped up on heroin, he feels in control of his life and his circumstances. Even though Sonny takes on different approaches in finding sense in his life; whether through the army, music, or heroin, they do not realistically solve any of his problems they just mask his confusion and indecision temporarily.
The story “Sonny’s Blues” By James Baldwin is about a jazz musician and his brother in 1950’s Harlem. The story centers on Sonny who uses jazz music as an escape from his depression. James Baldwin captures the art of jazz during this time period. The themes in this short story are perhaps varied, but all of them revolve around some form of suffering. One theme shows how music can promote change and understanding within relationships. A second theme reveals suffering caused by guilt. Yet another theme references the results of suffering brought about by searching for ones’ identity and how that leads to misunderstanding. There are also subthemes concerning racism and poverty.
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
Before passing away, the narrator's mother made him promise to always take care of Sonny: "You got to hold on to your brother," she said, "and don't let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you gets with him. You going to be evil with him many a time. But don't you forget what I told you, you hear?" (14). The narrator's initial lack of contact might seem that he has forgotten his promise and his responsibility as an older brother. Realistically though, the narrator is angry at Sonny's decisions to take heroin and consequently get arrested. This anger that he holds is preventing him from fulfilling his promise and his responsibility; however, when he receives the letter from Sonny stating, "You don't know how much I needed you", the anger dissipates and he realizes that his younger brother is in need of guidance and love rather than anger and ignorance.
After the funeral the narrator’s mother tells him about his father’s tragic relationship with his own brother who died when he was young because of an accident with his brother, Sonny’s dad thinks is his fault and that he could have prevented. She tells the narrator “You got to hold on to your brother” … “and don’t let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening” (495). The narrator promises that he will won’t let anything happen to Sonny. Shortly thereafter his mother dies and Sonny is left alone, fearing the regret that his father felt for letting his brother die the narrator brings Sonny in to live with the him and his family. Sonny is saved by the love of the narrator because by allowing Sonny to stay over he is able to finish school and provided with food and shelter. Although it may seem like the narrator does not benefit from helping Sonny, the narrator is saved from regret by loving and watching over Sonny. After his mother’s funeral, the narrator is thinking about what his mother told him and asks Sonny what he wants to be when he grows up. Sonny tells his brother that he wants to be a musician. When the narrator hears Sonny’ idea he tells Sonny, “it’s time you started thinking about your
Furthermore, Sonny's individualism is a direct result of his unhappiness with conventional life. As a young man, Sonny is unable to get along with his father. He hates his home and school. His creative interest leads him to become isolated from his brother, who feels threatened by "his jazz-oriented life style and his continued attraction to Greenwich Village" (Albert 179). By the beginning of the story, Sonny has rejected his family and his home, constructing a new life as a musician and drug peddler in a new location foreign to the narrator.
In the story of “Sonny’s Blues,” by Baldwin, the beginning of the story finds Sonny’s brother on his way to work reading about Sonny’s predicament. Sonny got arrested for “peddling and using heroin.” He didn’t want to believe that his brother was in trouble. While teaching his algebra class he was thinking about the past. He remembered when he first suspected his Sonny of using Heroin. He was always under the impression that Sonny was, “wild, but he wasn’t crazy. And he’d always been a good boy.” So he refused to believe that his brother was in trouble and needed him.
He doesn't want to hear any "sad story" from the drug user (or Sonny). Yet, the narrator feels guilty for not wanting to listen to the drug user (or Sonny). He begins to think that if his relationship with Sonny had allowed Sonny to talk and be heard than maybe Sonny would not be using heroin. This thought is expanded when the narrator sees the barmaid. The narrator "sees the little girl" in the barmaid, yet senses her struggling in life and views her as a semiwhore.
Sonny hurts his family and friends because of his poor choices and also he crushes their trust in them. These brothers cared for each other, but they do not know how to show their affections. The narrator is blinded to see his brother for who he is as a musician. The narrator closes his ears, eyes, and his heart and never cares to hear why Sonny feels to be trapped in his own world. At the end of the story, the two brothers finally decide
At first, Sonny can’t find his place in the musical conversation of the quartet, even though the other three try to help him. Finally, with Creole’s patience and understanding, Sonny seems to find a brand-new piano beneath his fingers. His musical voice emerges. Through Sonny’s music, the narrator experiences the pain and passion that Sonny could not express in words.
Just like Sonny, the narrator too struggles to establish his own identity. According to Maslow “when we are in doubt we are not honest” and if one is not honest, he will not be able to take responsibility for his actions, and the only way to self-actualize is by taking responsibility (112). Even though the narrator is quite successful in his life, working as a math teacher and having his own family, he also feels encaged in Harlem where he spent his entire
Although Sonny's brother kept in touch with Sonny, the first meeting with him was quite strange. Due to the fact that brother's bitter sweet memories came flooding back to him.It strikes me that brother is in a tight situation because of his past and he feels pain.We can understand this idea based on the first impression of Sonny's in his brother's mind.Brother couldn't even catch his breath.As you can see in the story, brother was afraid that he might sound weird in reply to Sonny's question. It seems brother feels guilty himself.After a while they came to house but brother never let his inner man to relax even in there. He thinks that his neighbour is alike the neighbour that they grew up so he had the feeling that he was bringing him into