Brother Relationships In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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The relationship between family members is hard to describe and very complex to be a part of, especially with estranged family members that are going through painful stages in their lives. James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" delves into this intricate idea of brother relationships with a narrator and his brother, who is seven years younger than him and addicted to heroin. In Baldwin's short story, the narrator is portrayed as a brother who treats Sonny as his child throughout his adolescence and his addiction.
When "Sonny's Blues" begins, the narrator demonstrates a devastating attitude towards his brother. The narrator reads about his brother's arrest in the newspaper, which causes him to think about it all day, even going as far as feeling a …show more content…

When they talk with each other at the narrator's apartment, Sonny explains to the narrator what heroin felt like for him, and for the first time, the narrator listens to him. Instead, he thinks about the anger he has at Sonny's drug use, mostly because he is angry at himself for not being there for him like his mother told him to. He felt disappointed in himself because he had failed his brother and mother, so he ended up deflecting his anger and hurting his brother. Wanting to make sense of this new side of Sonny, the narrator asked Sonny if he used drugs to feel in control, to which he responded that he uses them "to keep from shaking to pieces." This revelation creates a deeper connection between the two brothers because Sonny opens up about his hardships and how he had nothing to lean on, which made him feel angry about being left alone to deal with his addiction. The narrator's repeated "yes, I understand that" emphasizes that he has finally come to terms with Sonny as a person. He lets Sonny talk without interrupting and only talks to let Sonny know he understands and how he changed as a person because he now knows that Sonny needs someone in his life to just listen to him and be there for him. As a result, Sonny felt his brother was genuine enough to invite him to the nightclub where he was performing and show him the world in which he believes he belongs. He was now in Sonny's world, where everyone knew him and he was the outsider. At the club, he gradually got more comfortable playing jazz, and that made the narrator realize just how much jazz music was important to him. So as a final note of mutual understanding, he sends Sonny a drink, and he takes a sip of it as a sign to the narrator that their relationship might finally be more peaceful and

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