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Characterization And Symbolism In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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Throughout the story of “Sonny’s Blues”, James Baldwin develops a theme that can still be related with today. The misunderstanding and lack of knowledge that the narrator experiences, about his brother, is something that many today feel, as their own family members are being prosecuted and they do not comprehend why. Within the story, there are numerous subtle ideas that are used to progress the story and theme along to the ending that is given. James Baldwin advances the theme of his story, that misfortune and anguish can be renovated into a unique art form, using characterizations, settings, and symbolisms. One of the main literary devices that is used to express the theme is characterization. There are multiple ways that this can be seen, through the narrator and Sonny, the artist. In the beginning, of the story it paints a picture of Sonny as “his face had been bright and open” but later states that “I couldn’t believe it: ……… all that light in his face gone out” showing that through development of character the hardships these brothers have gone through drove Sonny into doing something he regretted. Later it shows that Sonny has grown while in prison becoming reserved and quiet, the only place that the…show more content…
There are many ways that symbolism is used to show things that are unique to each story that James Baldwin writes including “Sonny’s Blues”. The main symbolism surround music. One thing that it symbolizes is hope. Music gives Sonny hope that he can travel away from Harlem and those who doubt what he can do using blues music and his piano skills. This is not just used as symbolism in the story, but in what was really happening during this time. The ideals and images of Sonny can also be considered symbolism for those who are shadowed in these small neighborhoods. Those who have dreams to leave and make it big, but many things deter their
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