Mending the Relationship of Two Brothers in James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues

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Mending the Relationship of Two Brothers in James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues

According to Liukkonen, James Baldwin is well known for his "novels on sexual and personal identity, and sharp essays on civil-rights struggle in the United States." "Sonny's Blues" is no exception to this. The story takes place in Harlem, New York in the 1950's and tells of the relationship between two brothers. The older brother, who is the narrator and a participant in the novel, remains unnamed throughout the story. The novel is about the struggles, failures and successes of these two African American brothers growing up in the intercity as a minority. The encounters that the narrator and his brother, Sonny, have throughout the story exemplify Baldwin's
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He doesn't want to hear any "sad story" from the drug user (or Sonny). Yet, the narrator feels guilty for not wanting to listen to the drug user (or Sonny). He begins to think that if his relationship with Sonny had allowed Sonny to talk and be heard than maybe Sonny would not be using heroin. This thought is expanded when the narrator sees the barmaid. The narrator "sees the little girl" in the barmaid, yet senses her struggling in life and views her as a semiwhore.

This bitter conversation with the drug user would also be regeneration for the narrator. The drug user states he feels somewhat responsible in Sonny's arrest. In turn, the narrator faces the fact that he feels somewhat responsible for Sonny's arrest. As a result of his guilt and interest in Sonny, the narrator starts to ask the drug user specific questions regarding Sonny's disposition. The drug user has knowledge of the never-ending cycle of abusing drugs and shares this information with the narrator. In return, the older brother feels a regeneration of care for the drug user, who his is viewing as Sonny. This encounter concludes by the drug user requesting money from the narrator. The narrator feels sensitive of the drug users struggles (and failures) in life and gives him more money than requested.

Tragedy in the narrator's life (the death of his daughter) sparks him to write a letter to Sonny. It is this tragedy or struggling that brings out the narrator's