Suffering In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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According to Tero Liukkonen, a critic, James Baldwin’s writing is known for his “sexual and personal identity and civil rights struggles in the United States” which is evident in his short story Sonny’s Blues. It presents suffering and survival within the black community and throughout the characters family as well. Sonny’s Blues takes place in Harlem, New York in 1950’s were the Narrator, an unnamed character, as well as his older brother Sonny, tells the story. Characters like the Narrator, Sonny and their mother are strongly impacted by the pain of their families suffering. Throughout the short story, each character understands his/her own suffering and plan to attain a better life. The mother of the Narrator and Sonny comes from an older generation that represents the suffering that has always been in the world. She knew about the “darkness outside” and challenged herself as a mother to survive throughout all the hardships that came her way. We learn that the mother took on the pain …show more content…

When he finally faces the truth of Sonny’s drug addiction his entire world is being penetrated. He then realizes the only way to resolve his own pain is to reach out to Sonny by having to shield his reality to the reality that is around him. It’s not till Sonny finally stands up and faces the music. First he must look at his neighborhood and must acknowledge for what it is. As he teaches he hears, “Their laughter...It was not the joyous laughter which God knows why-one associates with children. It was mocking and insular, its intent was to denigrate.” (Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues) The Narrator also talks about the “vivid, killing streets of our childhood,” as he finally understands the danger Sonny is trying to escape and finally finds the truth of his mother's advice. “ You may not be able to stop nothing from happening. But you gotta let him know you’s there.” (Baldwin, Sonny's

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