James Baldwin 's Sonny 's Blues

Decent Essays

James Baldwin brings you on an emotional ride through Harlem in the 1950’s with his short story, “Sonny’s Blues.” From the beginning, we are in media res when the unnamed narrator is informed of bad news concerning his younger, troubled brother, Sonny. Throughout the story we witness the ocean of emotions between these two brothers battling hardships from their past, through flashbacks, and present time. The setting plays an important role in “Sonny’s Blues” to an extent where it is practically a character in the story. The city of Harlem is a reminder of their troubles and the suffering it ignites is exactly what Sonny tries to run away from when he turns to drugs and jazz music. Through the setting of “Sonny’s Blues,” and the example of the relationship between the narrator and his younger brother, Sonny, James Baldwin presents how a dark past full of suffering can influence present lives and relationships.
The sequence of events is not in chronological order since the narrator goes from present, to past, and back to present in order to illustrate the suffering experienced by both brothers and to emphasize the impact the past has on the present. During present time, Sonny is sentenced to prison for heroine abuse. The narrator and Sonny are not close at this time because he doesn’t try to understand Sonny until his little girl dies and he has some of his own suffering to deal with. “I was sitting in the living room in the dark, by myself, and I suddenly thought of Sonny. My

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