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 …show more content…
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
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.
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 narrator experienced a lot of problems throughout his life but managed to emerge victoriously from most of them. Even with this, he needs to support Sonny because this was his mother's dying wish. "The death of the narrator's daughter, Sonny's failure to fit in with his own family, a stint in the navy all serve to alienate the brothers, even after their mother made the narrator promise to keep an eye on young Sonny" (Smith 22). The fact that they were born in a harsh environment, society's views in regard to their racial background, and the fact that they experienced a lot of hardships during their lives all had a severe effect on the personalities of each of the brothers.
James Baldwin’s, “Sonny’s Blues,” illustrates the story between two different brothers as they struggle to discover the character of one another. “Sonny’s Blues” is narrated through the older brother’s point of view, as he portrays their difficulties in growing up, separation, and reunion. Baldwin purposely picks to tell the story in the first person point of view because of the omniscient and realistic effects it contribute to the story overall. The mother, father, and Sonny all express their accounts to the older brother, making him the perfect character to tell the story. In addition, the first person point of view allows the reader to experience the vicarious feelings that the
Thus, the narrator’s father dealt with the same struggle that the narrator and Sonny are facing now. The narrator wants to protect his brother from the darkness of the world that has always threatened to invade their lives but he fails to do so as he is torn by his emotions, which shift quickly from love to hate and he is also unable to express his emotions, feelings and concern towards Sonny.
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.
The story begins with anger that wraps the narrator entire being to the point where he loses track of his entire day. The Narrators’ angers keep him in denial of his brother addiction and from learning how to just be a brother and not a parent to Sonny. His denial is also keeping him from taking any responsibility at all of Sonny problems or life style, and him not being able to fulfill their mother wish of taking care of Sonny. Anger has driven such a powerful dagger in the Narrator life that it seems to be “choking” (223) him at time; a powerful emotion that keeps him from truly being able to listen to his only brother “I hear you. But you never hear anything I say” (237). Yet one cannot blame the narrator for his anger, because it has been integrated in his soul from many generations past. As the story stated, the brothers’ father also has such a strong anger toward all white men, which stopped him from truly living his potential life. The father held on to his anger of his brother death until death, which led him to cast a darkness of suffering on his wife and kids, also enabling him from moving on. Sonny himself enlisted in the military through anger, anger for not being heard and for being treated as a kid. Yet among both brothers, while Sonny is always seen to be struggling with his feeling, the narrator let his anger drive him to the point where he chooses to ignore his pains and sorrows. The narrator anger makes the readers question whether it is truly anger or shame and
The story begins by telling the readers how Sonny’s brother learned of him being in jail from a newspaper article (29), one might automatically infer that their relationship isn’t so good. It makes you wonder how much influence Sonny’s brother had when it came to how his life ended up. At one point in the beginning of the story his brother even asks himself if he had anything to do with it (33), as if to help the readers with the already occurring thought that maybe he could have helped his brother, maybe he could have been there and done more. Later on, he talks about the promise he made to his mother to take care of his brother, to lift him up and not let him fall (42). He had a responsibility to his little brother and he ultimately let him down, he let him fall and wasn’t around to help him back up when he needed it the most.
Additionally, as he leaves, he is met at the entrance of the school by one of the old friends of Sonny, who is an addict as well. The boy comes to inform him of the imprisonment of Sonny. Sonny’s friend repulses the storyteller, he continually requests for money; nevertheless, he receives him. Together, they start smoking and walk down the storyteller’s passageway stop. However, when the comrade consents that nothing can be done to save Sonny, the narrator takes the perception that the comment is audacious and motivates an outpouring of rage. Besides, the friend to Sonny cogitates that he should have terminated his life long time ago the storyteller agrees.. However, he immediately and subsequently feels guilty and endeavors to shift to the story concerning the fate of Sonny. Nearing the subway stop, the friend to Sonny requests for money from the narrator. Feeling pity, the narrators resolves to lend him five dollars.
In "Sonny's Blues" James Baldwin presents an intergenerational portrait of suffering and survival within the sphere of black community and family. The family dynamic in this story strongly impacts how characters respond to their own pain and that of their family members. Examining the central characters, Mama, the older brother, and Sonny, reveals that each assumes or acknowledges another's burden and pain in order to accept his or her own situation within an oppressive society. Through this sharing each character is able to achieve a more profound understanding of his own suffering and attain a sharper, if more precarious, notion of survival.
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
In the story of “Sonny’s Blues,” by Baldwin, the beginning of the story finds Sonny’s brother on his way to work reading about Sonny’s predicament. Sonny got arrested for “peddling and using heroin.” He didn’t want to believe that his brother was in trouble. While teaching his algebra class he was thinking about the past. He remembered when he first suspected his Sonny of using Heroin. He was always under the impression that Sonny was, “wild, but he wasn’t crazy. And he’d always been a good boy.” So he refused to believe that his brother was in trouble and needed him.
Music acts as a psychiatric-therapy session to bring peace to those who suffer. The protagonist implies that he cannot endure the awareness that his brother went to jail for drug use, and also for questioning his friend about being intoxicated. Although Sonny is not present in this scene, the music is a sense of interference for the narrator, and further relates to Sonny avoiding his problems of the cold reality in Harlem.
him, he realizes that Sonny is his own man. The trouble the narrator had with Sonny is
This is my first time to read “Sonny’s Blues”. I think the reason for this short fiction wrote successful is great in portray the character and story details. The author James Baldwin use great literary elements to depict the story’s develop. I want to analysis the title, plot and flashback use in this short fiction.