Light and Dark in the Book Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin Essay

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In James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues” there is a constant contrast between light and dark. Baldwin uses this theme to highlight the struggles that the Narrator and his younger brother, Sonny, both face. Light represents all of the positive aspects of life. Meanwhile, the darkness represents the constant struggle that threatens the characters in the story. Light and dark has a presence in both characters. The narrator lives his life in the “light”. He is a teacher, middleclass man, a man who has a wife and family. For the narrator, the darkness is his constant reflections on his brother, and his sense of guilt or blame for being the reason why Sonny turned to a life of drugs. The darkness represents Sonny in a way. He is a…show more content…
The narrator finished high school, did a tour in the army, and became an educator, while Sonny dropped out of school, joined the Navy underage, and came back to New York and lived in a furnished room in Greenwich Village.
The idea of light and dark plays a significant role in the black society of the 1950s that the narrator and Sonny grew up in. The narrator once speaks of a time when many family members and friends would get together to chat and eat Sunday dinner at his parent's home after church service. He alludes to the darkness once again by saying that moments would occur when the stark silence of the adults brought on by a serious conversation or a dismal revelation, perhaps about a death in the community or some other dark happening that penetrated the light that they had just before talked and laughed so freely in, threatened to prematurely alert the children of what the world around them was really like (98). At this point, the children are completely oblivious to the racism and other immoralities that thrive in the world they will soon have to venture into, but they are able to sense that something very distasteful is imminent, hence the child wishing that "the hand which strokes his forehead will never stop - will never die" (98). This idea of being an innocent child during a very tempestuous time was more than many young men could cling on to. The narrator was able to escape from the lifestyle

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