Sonny's Blues

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In James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" the symbolic motif of light and darkness illustrates the painful nature of reality the two characters face as well as the power gained through it. The darkness represents the actuality of life on the streets of the community of Harlem, where there is little escape from the reality of drugs and crime. The persistent nature of the streets lures adolescents to use drugs as a means of escaping the darkness of their lives. The main character, Sonny, a struggling jazz musician, finds himself addicted to heroin as a way of unleashing the creativity and artistic ability that lies within him. While using music as a way of creating a sort of structure in his life, Sonny attempts to step into the light, a life…show more content…
And when the light fills the room, the child is filled with darkness." (357)

In this quote, the narrator is showing that with the light comes knowledge of the world for the child. The light is bleak and not always encouraging. When the child exposes himself to the world he loses part of his innocence and childhood. Therefore, the child may wish to remain in the darkness. The darkness in this specific excerpt is personified as a slow and gentle relief. The narrator attempts to convey the concept that darkness, which is reality, means nothing without light to illuminate it because the light makes one aware of the dark, and therefore comprehend reality.

The pain that Sonny undergoes is only satisfied when he is playing his music, and it is through this that the narrator accepts Sonny as a person and as a musician. Acceptance of Sonny's profession is extremely difficult for the narrator because he has always associated Sonny's music with darkness and drugs. Nevertheless, the darkness of the night in the jazz club illustrates the complication and wonder of jazz to the narrator. In the jazz club, there is a struggle with light and darkness. This is exemplified when Sonny and the rest of the musicians wait to go on stage and the narrator notices

"The light from the bandstand spilled just a little short of them and, watching them laughing and gesturing and moving about, I had the feeling that they, nevertheless, were being most careful not to

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