A Literary Analysis Of Sonny's Blues, By James Baldwin

1131 Words5 Pages
Rhythm of the Soul “Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can't” (Depp). In some cases, music can convey people’s emotions, feelings, and thoughts stronger than words can. In James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues”, the narrator and his younger brother Sonny struggle with a communication barrier. Sonny can express his emotions by the language of music that his older brother, the narrator, has a difficult time understanding. The narrator, who is a stable school teacher, has a hard time relating to his younger brother and the other kids from their neighborhood, who became heroin addicts. Throughout the narrator’s burdensome journey, the author’s style, the setting, and the other characters help contribute to his dynamic change,…show more content…
Baldwin describes the similarities of the neighborhood from the brothers’ childhood and the narrator’s current neighborhood. The author ensures the reader that the neighborhoods are two different locations, yet in essence they are quite similar. The narrator describes the familiarities as, “...it’s really just like the houses in which Sonny and I grew up. The same things happen… The moment Sonny and I started into the house I had the feeling I was simply bringing him, back into the danger he had almost died trying to escape” (63). Sonny and the narrator grew up in a neighborhood where it was far too easy to get into trouble. The new home is not like the house they grew up in physically, but the people, experiences, and community is what creates the feeling of sameness. He fears that Sonny will revert back to his old habits when he is immersed into this parallel environment, after being released from prison. Another setting that Baldwin artistically writes about is the nightclub Sonny sings at in the end of the story. Being out of his element, the narrator felt like foreigner in the club. However, Sonny felt right at home. “Here, I was in Sonny’s world. Or rather: his kingdom. Here, it was not even a question that his veins bore royal blood” (76). Instead of giving a universal description of the nightclub, Baldwin transforms the setting into a kingdom. This allows the narrator to realize the importance of his environment, and how much it means to his younger
Open Document