James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” is a short story depicting the relationship of two brothers, Sonny and an unnamed narrator. The story takes place in the project of Harlem, New York in the early 1950s. The narrator is a high school math teacher. His younger brother Sonny is a troubled musician struggling with his addiction to drugs. Before their mother dies, she asks the narrator promise to her he’ll look after his younger brother when she is gone. Throughout the story he struggles to keep this promise. At the end of the story Sonny invites the narrator to come to a music club and hear him play, he accepts the invite. Upon arrival the narrator realizes he is in Sonny’s world. Hearing Sonny play only one set he is in awe and sends his brother a drink of scotch with milk. Sonny accepts it and gives a nod of approval to his brother across the room. In that moment the narrator finally understands Sonny’s love for music. Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” displays the theme of brotherly love to illustrate, that love can keep a family together no matter how many fights or issues there may be.
In modern-day life people often have their ups and downs of having power and losing it all. This is a key element in life, which is why many art forms choose to use it as their basis of writing. Literature often shows power and powerlessness through heroes and villains. However, author James Baldwin brings the battle of having and losing power through ordinary people’s life experiences. In the short story, Sonny’s Blues, written by James Baldwin examines the idea of how the desire to have power or control leads to having no power at all through the plot, characters, and setting.
How does Baldwin's real-life experience connect to his short story, "Sonny's Blues"? Read Baldwin's biography for more background on his life.
Using his writing as a form of self-expression, James Baldwin, an African American author, spent his life seeking to reveal the cruel reality of African American men. “Sonny Blues” Baldwin’s short fiction, was published in 1957 and takes place during the Harlem Renaissance. The literary work tells the story of Sonny and his brother (an unnamed narrator), as they seek to understand how to navigate the delicate and dangerous waters of familial relationships, their role in society and themselves. However, it is not until the end of the story when Sonny’s brother narrates the powerful, melodic sound of Sonny’s blues that he acknowledges his own pain. It is during his epiphany, when he finally begins to understand Sonny’s pain and the pain of every generation who came before him and after him. Baldwin’s acknowledgement as he declares, “I knew, no matter what anybody said, that the future I faced, was not the future they faced”
Racism, a very horrible thing, still exists in the world we live in and those who are black will find it very hard to succeed in life due to the constant discrimination and the bad influence near them. A very good example for this is a short story called “Sonny’s Blue.” A short story about a 2 African Americans and how one leads a successful life while the other falls to bad influence and ends up in jail Black people had to face lot of problems before the segregation was ended. . Many people think the past remains in the past and doesn't matter today; the terrible acts of segregation, exploitation, and discrimination that were once upheld by the government are irrelevant now just because the present day isn't like that anymore. But the truth is that racism still exists
Most of us have struggled in our lives with depression because of the pressure with academics and also expectations that our families and friends have from us. Some deal with this stress by doing something fun doing their free time or taking a break. The story of the man named Sonny shows us that inner hope which sparks whenever we face very stressful situations. This short story called, “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, shows us that any kind of problem can be channeled to make a positive output if we put enough effort in what we do for others and ourselves.
Paul Pearshall once said “Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted”. In this story the conflict of responsibility takes place. A brother, who happens to be the narrator, blames his self for the events that takes place in his life, such as his brother sonny’s crack addiction. The Narrator feels responsible for his brother’s heroin addiction because he believed he shut his brother’s career goals down, felt as though he went against what his mother asked him to do, and because he chose not to believe that the way he treated his brother affected his brother life.
Sonny’s Blues incorporates racial frustration, self-expression, avoidance, lightness/darkness and symbolic nature of music. Baldwins descriptive mental images gives readers a sense of the time frame the characters are in. With our understanding of the setting we are able to understand how life was like in the 1940s and why the theme of racism plays a factor in these characters lives. Through this short story Baldwin manages to show pain ,and hardships and the journey that is needed to transcend from
James Baldwin is considered as the most well-known writer of the 20th century. His writings were mainly concerned by the problem of racism in America since he was one of the figures of the civil rights movement. “Sonny’s blues” is one of his greatest literary works, where we will notice how the persistent racism the writer experienced has had a great impact on his devoted writings.
Throughout one’s life, one tends to adapt to the traditions of their family, and gain a significant bond with their loved ones, including their siblings. However, that connection a person gains can either be diminished or forgotten due to a sense of different mindsets between family members. The two stories “The Rich Brother” by Tobias Wolff and “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin indicate that sibling rivalry occurs when each member does not understand or acknowledge their sibling’s perspective, and this builds a wall barrier between the siblings.
Psychologist Robert Berezin says that, “Human struggle is not a brain problem, but a human problem.” (Berezin 1) In the short story “Sonny’s Blues,” the author James Baldwin reveals the dark truth about human nature, and through a psychoanalytic criticism perspective it can reveal how people cope with their suffering and problems. The main character, Sonny, is suffering from the hardships that many people face throughout life. Sonny’s suffering becomes so unbearable that he refuses to accept this inevitable situation, and seeks relief and control through the use of jazz and drugs.
In the short “Sonny’s Blues” James Baldwin depicts the struggles of African American Males in Harlem, New York during the 1950’s. Although he gives subtle hints about trends within the country, he only focuses on these two brothers and their journey. To spite the harsh reality of his surroundings Sonny turns to drugs and music as a means of escape and expression.
Doesn’t everyone need to be rescued sometime in life? The narrator in “Sonny’s Blues” struggles with his own identity and finding himself. He has a sense of insecurity and conformity to escape his past and where he comes from. The narrator finds himself focusing on his brother’s mistakes in life when in reality; he is questioning his inner insecurities. The narrator believes he must rescue his brother but realizes first he must find rescue himself. In James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” the author uses Sonny’s struggle for a redeemed life to push the narrator toward the realization of his own need for rescue; through this realization, the narrator can find his identity and be free from his sadness.