“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” written in 1957 addresses the story of a jazz musician, his struggles, and triumphs, in an era where racial segregation and civil rights movements brought big conflicts and important changes in our society. Baldwin in “Sonny’s Blues” uses symbolism, setting, and point of view to portray the struggles of an individual, who does not follow the social norms of the time, to integrate into society. The story takes place during the 1950’s in Harlem, New York, a mostly African-American community with a high level of poverty and crime.
James Baldwin is a renowned author best known for his work of essays, books and short stories, particularly those which dwell deeply into important social and psychological issues of discrimination, gender inequality, homophobia and so on. One of Mr. Baldwin 's most appreciated literary works is the short story 'Sonny 's Blues ' which focuses on two brothers who grew up together but take different paths in life. The story follows the narrator learning about his brother Sonny 's incarceration due to the use and selling of drugs until his brother gets parole. Throughout the story, we learn about the relationship between the pair and are able to witness the narrators ultimate understanding of Sonny and his ambition. As we continue to observe the impressive short story, we find the most recurring theme to be that of sorrow.
James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues shows a contrast between restriction and opportunity, and failure and salvation. The reader can see struggle through the brother’s relationship and their individual past. Baldwin is showing the reader that through all the struggles of life, there is salvation at the end. The symbolism of windows being barriers is a struggle to break free from where they are.
Sentimentalism was used to cultivate sympathy with others in order to promote self-improvement and motivate action to alleviate hardships. In Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, Williams-Garcia had Clayton go through challenges, so the readers can sympathize with Clayton but also be inspired by his character development. At a young age, Clayton was determined to reach his self-manifested identity to overcome the sudden death of his grandfather. Unlike the stories in Golden Age of literature, Clayton faced real obstacles that he needed to deal with to fulfill his ambition. Clayton always wanted to acquire Cool Papa’s identity, but after overcoming challenges he was able to discover his own self-identity.
The themes found in “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” are vibrant and colorful. The main character exudes confidence and bravery. When faced with adversity, the main character must choose between his family and his future while trying to gain respect from his peers. His stance is challenged by the lack of protection and not having economic power. Throughout the story, we are immersed in a convoluted environment with many southern stereotypes that effect the destiny of our main characters.
According to Tero Liukkonen, a critic, James Baldwin’s writing is known for his “sexual and personal identity and civil rights struggles in the United States” which is evident in his short story Sonny’s Blues. It presents suffering and survival within the black community and throughout the characters family as well. Sonny’s Blues takes place in Harlem, New York in 1950’s were the Narrator, an unnamed character, as well as his older brother Sonny, tells the story. Characters like the Narrator, Sonny and their mother are strongly impacted by the pain of their families suffering. Throughout the short story, each character understands his/her own suffering and plan to attain a better life.
Even though Patrick was a good brother and friend and tries to help others he didn't know how to help himself and find a love for himself and from the people are him. The Perks of Being a Wallflower theme of “we accept the love we think we deserve” is found throughout the book but in different ways for each character. Charlie is the main character so this theme is shown very strongly in him, but it is also shown strongly in Sam and Patrick. Each of them has different issues, like PTSD, sexual assault, not being loved, and is trying to find a way to get over it slowly.
In the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, Stacey’s perspective of racial equality, TJ and his friendship, the Simms specifically Jeremy, and his family, dramatically affects the decisions that he makes in chapter 7 and the past chapters. I assume, that Stacey understands most of what is going on, like Jeremy and TJ’s personality. I also infer that he sometimes does not think, and makes a bad decision mainly with TJ, like the coat and many other times. Like any other two boys’ friendship, Stacey and TJ are still best friends no matter what happens and Stacey in a way protects TJ at sometimes. For example, when TJ cheated, and Stacey got punished for it, Stacey chased TJ all the way down to the Wallace store, tackled him, sat on top of him, and made sure that his point about not cheating and Stacey getting blamed for it was clear.
Throughout the story it reveals how self-expression is difficult for people and can lead to trouble and/or miscommunication which can cause problems. Such as misunderstanding when someone wants to say something. Self-expression is an important theme throughout Sonny’s Blues because it can relate to the audience difficulty trying to express them. For example on pages 51 to 53, Sonny and the narrator are trying to talk about Sonny’s future. On page 53, Sonny explains that he wants to join the army in order to get out of Harlem.
Prompt #3: “ Sonny’s Blues” ( James Baldwin, 1957). In the story, the characters come in conflict with the culture in which he lives. Working Thesis: In my opinion most stories as conflict with one or more of the characters in the story, but how the characters deal with conflict will shapes the theme of a story and if they were to have done something different the theme would change or won’t change. When Sonny was about as old as the boys in classes had been bright and open, there was a lot of copper in it; and he’d had wonderfully direct brown eyes, and great gentleness and privacy.
In Rankins book Citizen and Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son we learn that the books are about the racial differences of the past and present. We learn that in Notes of a Native Son it captures a view on the black life of a father and son at the peak of the civil rights movement. These harsh times allow Baldwin to wonder and doubling back to a state of grace. While in Citizen we learn that our experiences of race are often beginning in the unconsciousness and in the imagination and tangled in words. Rankine shows how dynamic of racial selves are not isolated but also shared.
Psychologist Robert Berezin says that, “Human struggle is not a brain problem, but a human problem.” (Berezin 1) In the short story “Sonny’s Blues,” the author James Baldwin reveals the dark truth about human nature, and through a psychoanalytic criticism perspective it can reveal how people cope with their suffering and problems. The main character, Sonny, is suffering from the hardships that many people face throughout life. Sonny’s suffering becomes so unbearable that he refuses to accept this inevitable situation, and seeks relief and control through the use of jazz and drugs.
In Giovanni’s room, James Baldwin uses a lot of literary devices such as foreshadowing, flashbacks, making this book an important book to teach to high schoolers. For example, he also used imagery when describing his situation with Joey. His change in tone showed how quickly he realized that what he was doing was wrong, and he wanted to fix it. His emotion changed from affection towards Joey into shame. Flashbacks are constantly used in this book, making it a bit confusing as well.
In the story “Sonny’s Blues” written by James Baldwin, one of the main characters was a drug abuser. Sonny lived a miserable and lonely life. After he got hooked on drugs, his brother, the narrator stopped associating with him. On page 175, he said that it has been over a year since he had seen Sonny. Also on page 177, the narrator said “I did not write Sonny, or send him anything for a long time.”
We all have memories that make us cringe like nails on a chalkboard as they traverse our brain. The narrator read the article about Sonny and everything from the past came flooding back to him, “Sonny was wild, but he wasn’t crazy” (146) the narrator states in disbelief. Another example of this cringing feeling is near the end of “Sonny’s Blues” as the narrator elaborates “that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky” (175). The narrator quotes this as he reminisces on the many years of suffering he and Sonny endured. Even though James Baldwin’s short story is spread in the span of a decade, the narrator can vividly remember the memories that make him recoil as he states “The same things happen, they’ll have the same thing to remember”