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Sonnys blues literary analysis

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Jane-Clare Dauito
Professor Thorstensen
English Composition 2
11 December 2013
Within The Blues
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” is a story of how a distant and conflicting relationship between two brothers is saved by the powerful message within music. In “Sonny’s Blues” the music portrays a very powerful message. The story begins with Sonny being arrested for heroin use. Sonny’s older brother is a school teacher and did not want to believe that the news was true, “I didn’t want to believe that I’d ever see my brother going down, coming to nothing, all that light in his face gone out, in the condition I’d already seen so many others” (Baldwin 293). Sonny used his music and drugs to distance himself from all the negativity in his life.
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Although Sonny’s addiction to drugs and love for music seemed similar because he used both to escape reality, they were inevitably more different. The empowerment Sonny got from drugs was nothing but an illusion, unlike the strength he gained from music. “Sonny’s Blues” illustrates the ability to stay sane through the power of music. Sonny’s father died when he was fifteen and sadly “He and Sonny hadn’t ever got on too well. And this was partly because Sonny was the apple of his father eye. It was because he love Sonny so much and was frightened for him, that he was always fighting with him” (Baldwin 298). Sonny lost both his parents at a young age, which left him with his older brother as his only family. Sonny’s brother leaves for the army and “…already decided that he’d have to move in with Isabel and her folks” (Baldwin 302). Sonny was not in favor of the arrangement but he really did not have much of a choice. Sonny’s brother cheered him up by saying, “They got a piano at Isabel’s. You can practice on it” (Baldwin 303). Sonny stayed with Isabel and her folks, who tolerated him out of respect for his brother. Sonny’s loneliness caused him to seclude himself from everyone around him. Sonny used music to overcome the loneliness he felt. The music was how Sonny adapted to the new unfamiliar environment. Sonny played the piano every day until supper time. His brother says that “At first, Isabel
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