A Literary Analysis Of Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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Diamond Williams Professor Wolfe LIT2001 3 January 16 Fiction Analysis “Sonny’s Blues” is a short story written by James Baldwin that reflects on the ongoing struggles between failure and atonement amongst two brothers. The older brother who is also the narrator, gives us insight on the struggles in Harlem, and the life he had with his drug addicted younger brother, Sonny. As we follow the narrator, we later discover who Sonny really is. Published in the mid nineteen hundreds, the burdensome of living in Harlem in “Sonny’s Blues” reflects the life that James Baldwin endured. The narrator starts the story off by reflecting back to when Sonny was a young boy. He then compares his students to Sonny and realizes they could end up like him one day. For that reason, the narrator starts to doubt his…show more content…
He knows the limits of being black and poor and wants to escape them. He tries to break free by moving out of Harlem and becoming a musician, but ends up in prison. While in prison, Sonny writes a letter to his brother saying, “I can’t tell you much how I got here…. I was trying to escape from something” (p. 127). Sonny wants to escape from drugs, the darkness, and Harlem to go to light of happiness, and redemption. He knows that the drugs destroyed him and is “glad Mama and Daddy are dead and can’t see what’s happened to their son” (p. 127) because he know his parents would be disappointed in him. Towards the final pages the narrator finds forgiveness in Sonny’s music, while Sonny finds freedom by playing the piano. At Sonny’s performance, the narrator said, “There was no battle in his face now” (p. 148). The narrator now knows that through music Sonny is relieved from all the burdens that was placed before him. He also knows that he is free and is “no longer a lament” (p. 148). In the end, because of Sonny’s performance, the narrator and Sonny both found

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