Environment In Sonny's Blues And The Lesson

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One’s environment plays a positive or negative role in shaping a person’s identity depending on where they live. Growing up in a bad neighborhood, one might be surrounded by gangsters, dangerous streets, and have a higher chance of becoming a burden on society. Growing up in a rich neighborhood, one might worry less and get whatever they want; so life is not a burden. But being exposed in a poor environment shapes one’s identity positively by motivating a person to grow and evolve for the better.
Experiencing sufferings in an environment may inspire a person to change for the better. In “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, Sonny and his brother grew up in Harlem. The people in Harlem are suffering from poverty and drug addiction. Sonny’s environment
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Miss Moore, a mentor plans a summer trip for the children in Harlem to an expensive toy shop, F.A.O Schwarz to teach them a lesson about the value of money. One of the children is Sylvia and she has an arrogant behavior by saying, “Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar were the only ones just right” (Bambara 304). Sylvia thinks that she is the smartest person in their neighborhood until Miss Moore comes. Sylvia does not like Miss Moore at all and she “kinda hate her too” (304). She hates Miss Moore because she feels that someone is better and smarter than her in their neighborhood. Sylvia explains why Miss Moore wants to help children’s education, “She’d been to college and said it was only right that she should take responsibility for the young one’s education, and she not even related by marriage or blood” (304). Miss Moore wants to teach the children because she wants them to become aware of what is happening in their society. While they are in the toy store, Miss Moore asks the children what they think about their trip and one of the children, Sugar says, “that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don’t it?” (309). Sugar learns that there is a social inequality between the rich and poor people. Sugar realizes when they are in the toy store that the cost of the sailboat can feed a lot of families. Because of what Sugar says, Sylvia confesses, “sorrowfully I’m thinkin. And something weird is going on. I can feel it in my chest” (310). Sylvia feels she betrayed by her best friend because at first they hate Miss Moore and after the trip, everything has changed. However, Sylvia realizes that what Sugar say are all true. Sylvia and other children understand what Miss Moore is trying to teach them a lesson. Sylvia changes her point of

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