The experience of using music as an emotional escape when one is experiencing frustrating times is one that is almost universal. This application of music, more specifically the blues, is especially true for the title character in James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues.” Told from the perspective of his older brother, the writing depicts the hardships that Sonny has been through, including the loss of both of his parents and the ordeal of going to jail for drugs, all of which result in a strained relationship between him and his brother. In "Sonny's Blues," Sonny has a deep dedication and emotional connection to the blues. The author depicts this through the continuation of an extended metaphor, the description of music being played, and the application of blues as a narrative device.
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.
The story, Sonny’s Blues, describes the lives of two brothers growing up in Harlem in the early 1960’s. Sonny and his brother are different in the way the go about life in general. They were both raised in the same household, yet they grew up to be totally different people. As the story progresses we see that both brothers have troubles in their lives and we get to see how each thinks and acts when facing such ordeals. While the brothers differ in the way they internalize and cope with their problems, they both show selfish characteristics, but ultimately feel remorseful for not being in each others’ lives.
“Sonny’s Blues” introduces two brothers who have differing mindsets about how to best cope with suffering. The narrator is Sonny’s responsible, unnamed older brother, who follows a very ordered path, using military service, marriage and teaching math to gain stability and escape the downward pull of Harlem. In contrast, younger brother Sonny lives his life like his music hero plays his jazz: improvising. Sonny experiments with drugs, skips school and eventually drops out, all the while feeding his obsession with piano. Sonny’s older brother sees no legitimacy in Sonny’s art and aspirations to become a musician. He disparagingly deems it “to be merely an excuse for the life he led”. The brothers are unable to set their differences aside, and are only reconnected in a time of immense grief, as the brother’s daughter, Grace, dies.
In the short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin a schoolteacher from the city of Harlem struggles with life and figuring out how to helped his troubled brother. All though named Sonny’s Blues the main character is actually Sonny’s brother who is the narrator and goes through his life and how he reacts to the many problems his younger brother has come into. The brothers grew up in the poverty stricken city of Harlem where the brothers had to avoid drugs and violence constantly. Growing up, Sonny struggled to stay out of trouble and ended up making some bad decisions throughout his life and ends up landing him in jail and addicted to heroin. The un-named brother of Sonny who is the narrator of the story begins to
The development of the plot stands out as one of the most crucial elements of the story. From the very beginning, the narrator discovers that Sonny has been arrested for his drug use. This action engenders the narrator to reflect on his relationship with Sonny. The discovery of Sonny 's arrest quickly conveys to us a point that is so central to the story. Following the introduction of plot is the conflict. The conflict of the story centers around the narrator and Sonny arguing about Sonny 's decision to become a jazz musician. This conflict,however, has happened before the situation in the introduction of the story but is mentioned further in the story. Sonny 's desire to become a jazz player is seen as a waste of time by the narrator. Consequently, tension is formed between the brothers because of their lack of agreement on the issue. The tension between the brothers gets even more complicated when Sonny moves into the narrator 's apartment. During this part of the story, the narrator and Sonny try to come to terms with themselves and each other. The climax of the story is when the narrator and Sonny argue in the apartment. This is the most important part of the story because both brothers have a brutally honest argument. The narrator discusses Sonny 's drug use, his misunderstanding of Sonny as a musician, and Sonny 's frustration in life. This argument between the two brothers resolves when Sonny invites the narrator to come hear him play. The
Everyone is born in different times with different opportunities. Some of us have to struggle to make ends meet and others are born with money at their feet already. “Sonny’s Blues” opens up in Harlem with the narrator on a bus reading a newspaper learning that his brother, Sonny, has been arrested for selling heroin. Sonny’s brother takes him in after he is released from jail. However, his brother is scared if he lets him back into his home he will fall into his old ways. Sonny’s true passion in life is to become a Jazz musician but his family doesn’t believe in what he wants to do. Sonny want’s his brother to go with him to a jazz club to see how he actually is and not just seeing him as a dope selling drug addict. At the end of Sonny’s set, he realizes that Jazz has helped Sonny to stay free and express himself. Through Marxist criticism Baldwin highlights the power struggle of the main characters and the world in which they live.
As well as in the short story Sonny’s Blues, the main character, Sonny, is being criticized by his brother. Since the very beginning, their mother told the oldest one, ‘’ you got to hold on to your brother ’’ and that’s what he wanted to do, but Sonny took a different path than he did. Sonny was the kind of guy that was heroin-addicted and a jazz musician, but his older brother didn’t see all these sides of him. We discover all these sides by the use of flashback of the author throughout the major parts of the story. The author didn’t want us to see Sonny like his older brother was seeing him, he wanted us to see him as a poor, un-accepted guy that needed to be listened by his peers. The brother didn’t accept the journey that Sonny had taken, but if he would of saw the actual Sonny, and stop hiding in the darkness, he would of accepted him faster and understand that Sonny only wanted to show that he could do good things not only drugs. In the middle of the story, there is a flashback were we learn that actually Sonny is more experienced about life than his older brother, because Sonny was in drugs and was really affected by Harlem( the city they stayed in when they were younger). The brother had a pretty easy life; he became a teacher and had a little family. This demonstrates that we need support from our peers, to be able to continue without taking bad choices.
While reading “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin theme, symbolism, and motifs were discovered throughout the entire short story. Sonny one of the two main characters, is dealing with a drug addiction and is now following his dreams of becoming a jazz musician. The narrator, whose name was never given, does his best to keep the promise he made his mother years ago, to be his brother’s keeper.
The setting of this story takes place in Harlem in the 1960’s. Though in 1954 when the Brown vs. Broad case found that racially segregates schools were not equal at all, there was still the transition where blacks were still being treated unequally. Harlem was not the ideal living area, but for Sonny and his family it was what they could afford. This may have to do with why Sonny got into drugs. He was in a primarily black community where there wasn’t much opportunity for them to do the things they wanted. It may have been the people Sonny would hang out with, the thought that he wasn’t going anywhere in life, or the thought that his family needed more money, that made him ultimately resort to selling drugs.
“Sonny’s Blues” is an emotional story written by an amazing author, James Baldwin, who has come to be one of my favorite writers. This particular piece talks about the troubles of African American freeing themselves from the mental bondages of their surroundings, the ghetto. The title is significant, and helped me to understand the underlining meaning of the story. The title can be divided into two main reasons, the first, “Sonny’s Blues, meaning the music he plays. Second is the reference to his life, his feelings, his style, and most importantly his way of life.
“Sonny’s Blues” is a touching story of transformation for the narrator and his brother. After spending time in prison for possession of heroin, Sonny comes back home to meet a very hostile and unforgiving brother. The story is set in the predominately African American projects of Harlem, New York where drug abuse and violence are quite rampant. The projects according to Baldwin are: “rocks in the middle of a boiling sea” (112). This description highlights the awful state of affairs. Life conditions in Harlem are worsened by the fact that there are no opportunities for Blacks to empower themselves economically and to liberate themselves from
Suffering is something that everyone has to persevere at some point in their life. One thing makes us unique is how we deal with these hardships. The characters in “Sonny’s Blues” endure many difficult situations. How they choose to deal with these situations effects their entire life. To begin the story, we see that the narrator’s brother Sonny has already dealt with his suffering by using heroin. Then the narrator’s daughter dies of polio, but his pain helped him reach out to Sonny. He brought Sonny into his home to live. The story then takes a turn, and it jumps back to before the boys parents died. Their mother tells a story to the narrator about his father. His father’s brother was hit by a car of white men and he died right in front of him. He never was the same after the incident. Then she made him promise to take care of Sonny and not let him fall no matter how hard it is. After the death of their parents Sonny expressed his yearning to be a musician to his brother, and he shot the idea down. Sonny pursued his dreams anyway, but went down the wrong paths. By the end of the story when the brothers are reunited the narrator finally
“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, is a short story that takes place in Harlem. It is told through the perspective of his brother, who is the narrator. The story is focused on Sonny and his music, more specifically, how the music was redemption for Sonny. For Sonny, the music helped establish his identity while also helping him find a place in society. Thus, a kind of reconciliation occurs among various conflicts, which is symbolized by the drink his brother sends to him at the end. Music is crucial to Sonny’s identity and that is because it was a means for him to escape the life of drugs. Based on his brother’s perspective a fair representation of Sonny’s relationship with music, a picture of Sonny’s struggle for redemption becomes clear.
In the short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James H. Pickering, a brother is trying to understand what has led his younger brother, Sonny, to drug addiction and how to help his relationship with Sonny. The instructive purpose of this analysis is to examine how James Baldwin uses the narrators characteristics to construct the central conflict of the story. The two opposing forces that create the central conflict are presented as a person versus self, by a clash of two feelings. On one hand the parental characteristic of the narrator wants to help his brother. The other a closed - minded characteristic of the narrator wants to push his brother away. The central idea of the story is trying to overcome an internal conflict to be able to save relationships with those we love most but tend to push away. A change in thinking and acceptance moves those struggling back together where they want to be.