Essay on Literary Analysis of James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues

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Fictional writing is generally done just to entertain readers. Some authors create stories with a singular point of view, while others introduce more complex plots and storylines. When it comes to author James Baldwin’s short story Sonny’s Blues, there is much depth given to the storyline and the characters. Sonny’s Blues has been analyzed by many different people throughout time because the story has many elements. From Baldwin’s skillful use of metaphors and similes to his incorporation of religious references, this story is insightfully and complexly written. A simple story about a man and his brother leaves readers with an inside look into family, drug addiction, socioeconomic struggles in the Black community, and the language of Jazz…show more content…
Jazz Fiction is a type of literature that uses jazz music as a language between characters, to illuminate feelings through the use of musical descriptors, and to give the story a jazz-like rhythm. James Baldwin successfully does each of those things in Sonny’s Blues. One example of how Baldwin uses musical terms to describe something is when Sonny is trying to explain to his brother what it was like being addicted to drugs. He says “when you finally try to get with it and play it, you realize nobody’s listening…Sometimes you’ll do anything to play” (p. 327). He’s using the word “play” as if he’s talking about an instrument, but really he is talking about his struggle with drugs. The jazz-like rhythm of the story could be felt at different points like during a back and forth dialogue between the brothers: “All right…so it can come again. All right” “I had to try to tell you” “Yes, I understand that” “You’re my brother” “Yes…yes. I understand that” (p. 328) The author also describes Sonny’s walk in a musical way, “He has a slow, loping walk, something like the Harlem hipsters walk, only he's imposed on this his own half-beat” (p. 325).

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