Essay about "Sonny's Blues"

Decent Essays
The Evolution of a Relationship through Music

In "Sonny's Blues", theme, form, and image blend into perfect harmony and rise to a thundering climax. The story, written in 1957 carries a vital social message for us today. It tells of two black brothers' struggle to understand one another. The older brother, a well-off Harlem algebra teacher, is the unnamed narrator. The younger man is Sonny, a jazz pianist who, when the story opens, has just been arrested for peddling and using heroin. In Sonny's Blues, chronological time is upset yet the author, Baldwin, allows everything to come together in the end. In "Sonny's Blues" the tragedy and suffering can be transformed into an art such as blues music. This can be viewed as a catalyst
…show more content…
Sonny's answer, equating drug addiction with prison, and both with Harlem, shows his need to reach his brother. The two men have finally begun to communicate with one another. The letters continue until Sonny's return to New York when the narrator, who has started at last to worry about Sonny, about the life that Sonny lived inside, takes him home. The narrator acts and feels awkward, wanting only to hear that Sonny is safe and refusing to accept the fact that he might not be. Through this we realize that the two brothers finally have an understanding for each other. Although the understanding is limited, it grows immensely throughout the story.

In the flashbacks the narrator recalls events that bring together the past, present, and future. We learn of another pair of brothers, Sonny's father and uncle. The uncle, like Sonny, was a musician, but he was killed one night after being run over by some drunken white men. Parallels are drawn between both their father and uncle and Sonny. The narrator's mother makes this apparent when she tells him, "I ain't telling you all this to make you scared or bitter or to make you hate nobody. I'm telling you this because you got a brother. And the world ain't changed" (41). She tells her older son all this so he will look after his brother, but her death, occurring shortly after this conversation, only shows the immeasurable gulf between the two boys. After the narrator was married he forces Sonny to live
Get Access