Contrasting Responsibility in Carver's "Fever" and Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"

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What allows a human being to constantly face-up to the responsibilities of life? What makes a mother or father continue to clothe, feed, and pick up their child from school? What makes a person wake up every morning to go to a job he or she hates, come home, and begin the whole process the following morning? Is it "responsibility" that makes a person do what they have to do, or rather is it fearing the consequence? Truthfully, this would depend on the situation. Parents would most likely fulfill their responsibility towards their child or children because of love; but a person who hates his or her job probably continues to do it fearing the consequence of unemployment. In the end, one realizes that despite all the responsibilities a person…show more content…
As the plot is established, one realizes that Sonny has been arrested for using heroin and sent to rehabilitation. Consequently, Sonny's brother is so disappointed in him that he initially refuses to even contact him until he writes a letter to inform Sonny of his daughter's death. When Sonny responds, the first words he writes are, "You don't know how much I needed to hear from you" (6). This opening sentence jolts Sonny's brother into realizing that at the moment his brother needed him the most, he did not even bother to at least acknowledge him.

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.

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