An Analysis Of Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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In his story “Sonny’s Blues”, James Baldwin writes a fictitious story about an unnamed narrator and his younger brother Sonny, both whom are African American and seem to not get along with one another. The story is set somewhere in the 1940s-1950s Harlem area, where there is racial inequality, poverty, and despair. Baldwin in this story tackles the themes of division, suffering, and reconnection. Both brothers were born in harlem, but the older brother rejects harlem and becomes part of white society. while sonny embraces Harlem and suffers Harlem 's pains, writing music that speaks to Harlem; through this music he is able to reconnect to his brother. Baldwin uses the Harlem setting to show that a complex environment can disrupt a family relationship…show more content…
To Sonny jazz is everything to him, he even told his brother “I want to play jazz” (Baldwin 109). Jazz is how Sonny expresses himself and “In this story music is the thread that accompanies and develops the brotherhood/scapegoat metaphor. For in his music Sonny reveals both his suffering and his understanding of others’ pain. His music becomes a mystical, spiritual medium, an open-ended metaphor simultaneously comforting the player and the listener and releasing their guilt and pain” (Robertson 10). Sonny knew that he wasn’t the only one going through rough times, his older brother was still taken aback and in pain from Grace’s death. From the narrator listening to Sonny’s music the narrator was able to understand everything from Sonny’s painful experiences, his family’s grief from the death of grace and even what his parents experience when they were still alive. Furthermore, Sonny figured that the only way to get his brother to understand him is to have him listen to his music because when Sonny tried to talk to his older brother there were misunderstandings as Suzy Bernstein Goldman, a criticism writer for Sonny’s Blues, states “There is a greater brotherhood among people than mere kinship. Moreover, the narrator realizes that their music saves them, for it “seemed to soothe a poison out of them.” The narrator’s simultaneous…show more content…
The narrator, who has escaped the dangers of Harlem’s streets to become a solid family man and a mathematics teacher in Harlem high school, tells the tale of his younger brother Sonny, a jazz/ blues musician trapped in heroin addiction” (Tackarch 112). The story of Sonny is about redemption after being caught up with drugs and imprisonment and reconnecting with his older brother. Other reference to the bible is the narrator’s daughter’s name Grace, both Tackach, an author of the Renascence, and Caitlin Stone, an author of the Explicator, both had stated evidence to this claim, “…Baldwin chooses it specifically because of what it means…Grace, in the bible, stands for the unmerited favor of god. It is the extension of mercy” (Stone 252). Grace in the story is a two-year-old girl which Baldwin states as a “beautiful little girl”

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