Suffering and Assimilation Essay

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One of the recurring themes that shows up in the literature written by African Americans and Mexican Americans seems to be the suffering of the past and present along with not much hope for the future. The pains expressed by these people are related to race, poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity. Another recurring theme is the minorities assimilation into the white society. Minorities have always been socially pressured to assimilate into the society in which they live. They are subtly encouraged in the United States to become a part, "The American Dream." These two themes can be seen in, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, "Sonny's Blues," by James Baldwin and even the real life of Jean Toomer, a famous writer.…show more content…
In "Sonny's Blues," the story places emphasis on Harlem's African American community and its struggle to become successful both economically and socially. Sonny's brother is a high school algebra teacher who grew up in Harlem, who has made an attempt to escape the streets by getting a good job and assimilating himself, as best he can, into white society. In subtle ways, however, he has internalized many of the prejudices of that society. When Sonny tells him that he wants to be a musician, his brother immediately assumes that this means a classical musician. After it becomes clear that Sonny wants to play jazz, a traditionally black genre, his brother thinks that it is somehow beneath him. The success that Sonny's brother has in assimilating into the white-dominated society separates him from his brother and a world that, "Filled everything, the people, the houses, the music, the dark, quicksilver barmaid, with the menace that was the irreality." On the other hand, Sonny lives outside of the white society and is portrayed as the family failure. Rather than assimilating himself into the mainstream culture and following "The American Dream," he chooses to immerse himself in the blues world and become a heroin addict. It is a powerful portrayal of how individuals react to and deal with their circumstances. In The House on Mango Street, the is suffering is
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