Brief Summary Of Suffering In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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James Baldwin experienced two decades of successful writings in the mid-twentieth century, a time when racial tensions were high in the United States. Born in Harlem, Baldwin lived and adapted to the world of social and racial unrest; though most of us cannot understand these times, Baldwin shared through his writings the hardships many families endured. Baldwin reflects on this difficult time by writing a story titled “Sonny’s Blues”. This story is about two black brothers who are tormented with daily life and struggle to overcome the hopeless confines of the city. In this essay, I will discuss how poverty, drugs, prisons and death contribute to the inescapable boundaries of suffering.
The narrator—who is not named—begins the story by finding out his brother Sonny, was arrested “in a raid on an apartment downtown, for peddling and using heroin” (Baldwin 1969). Not wanting to believe it because Sonny had “always been a good boy” (Baldwin 1969), yet, deep down in his soul he was sure the city of Harlem had a firm grasp on Sonny’s life from an early age. As the narrator states “I was sure that the first time
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Trying to get out of the city a few years earlier by joining the army like his brother, he returned to the place that he knew best, Harlem. However, unlike his brother who made something of himself, Sonny’s aspiration was to be a musician. Upset with Sonny’s desire, the narrator did not understand why Sonny wanted “to spend his time hanging around nightclubs” (Baldwin 1978). We can assume the narrator associates these types of establishments with partying, mischievous mischief and drugs; a common occurrence in a poverty stricken section of New York like Harlem. Though the narrator judges the nightclubs as a bad influence on Sonny’s survival, Sonny uses his music to escape the many obstacles he faces everyday as a poor black man in

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