A Comparative Analysis Of Sonny's Blues 'And Incident'

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Essay- What’s in a Genre?
In James Baldwin’s long story “Sonny’s Blues” is a story about two brothers and their struggles in a segregated Harlem. The story is about the narrator of the story, which is one of the brothers and Sonny, and how they both live different lives after the death of their parents. Sonny is living his life infused with drugs. The narrator, Sonny’s brother is reminded of the promise he had made to his mother to take care of Sonny, after the narrator almost lost his own daughter to Polio.
In contrast to Baldwin’s Harlem story, Counteen Cullen’s short styled poem “Incident” takes place on the streets of Baltimore in a bus. Here it is in full:
Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean …show more content…

Sonny felt an ever growing frustration, as most black jazz musicians did in the 1950’s, and therefore turned to drugs in a way to cope with his own misery. This quote says it all: “’All that hatred down there,’ he said, ‘all that hatred and misery and love. It's a wonder it doesn't blow the avenue apart.’” (Baldwin, James. Sonny's Blues. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education, 1993. Print.)
The encounters in both texts could have happened anywhere in America, from past to present. In the poem “Incident” the racial confrontation takes place in a bus. In the 1920’s segregation was common, big cities like Baltimore was even more segregated, and incidents just as the poem, took place more often as it should. Buses were places were places where people were forced to come together. The setting in “Sonny’s Blues” is the impoverished Harlem after the Korean War, and the future looks grim to most of its inhabitants. After all, the two works might have been written thirty years apart, but the conditions had not changed much for African Americans in America during that

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