The Cultural Divide Before analyzing another’s actions or decisions it is imperative to understand their ethnic background. The same is true when analyzing pieces of literature that emphasize conflicting cultural beliefs and customs. Sonny’s Blues, written by James Baldwin, gives the reader a glimpse into the hardships of living as an African-American in Harlem during the 1950’s, where drugs and violence ruled the streets. The Man to Send Rain Clouds by Leslie Silko uses visual imagery to illustrate Native American customs on an Indian reservation in New Mexico. While Baldwin and Silko’s stories are different in nature, they both contain similar conflict between cultures. The Man to Send Rain Clouds portrays the cultural divide between …show more content…
He remarks, “Yet it had happened and here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys who might, every one of them for all I knew, be popping off needles every time they went to the head. Maybe it did more for them than algebra could.” The narrator remains an example of rejecting what is customary on the streets of Harlem because he refused to dabble with drugs, managed to secure a middle-class job and raise a family. Although the narrator and his brother, Sonny, grew up in the same household, they happened to have conflicting values and goals. The major conflict in this story is between Sonny, who abides by the norms of street culture in Harlem, and the narrator, whose belief system falls within the larger culture. Sonny followed the path of many of the others in the community, experimenting with heroin, drug dealing and pursuing an unrealistic music career, which his brother did not agree with. However, by the end of the story, the narrator sympathizes with Sonny’s drug addiction and understands that his music was a means of channeling his own …show more content…
The Man to Send Rain Clouds is written in third person omniscient point of view, relying mainly on visual description to tell the story. In contrast, Sonny’s Blues is written in first person narrative, relying on dialogue and the narrator’s own insight. Baldwin’s short story is about the narrator’s struggle with accepting his brother, Sonny’s drug addiction and the way he decides to live his life. The narrator fears that his brother will be stuck on the road of addiction and eventually die from his habit. Silko’s story is about a family on an Indian reservation preparing their relative for burial. However, in this tale, they accept and embrace the death of Teofilo because they believe that his death will bring
Baldwin gives us an alternative space of darkness. This reference of darkness being depicted by the Narrator is his connection that the nightclub and what it stands for is symbolic to all the things negative associated in Harlem. The Narrator associates Jazz music and drugs as one of the same. “The waitress ran around, frantically getting in the last orders, guys and chicks got closer to each other, and the lights in the bandstand, on the quarter, turned to a kind of indigo.” The narrators idea of darkness is changed in this scene.
That you shouldn’t let your living situations or surroundings determine your outcome. Sonny's Blues shows challenges that troubled the African-American community, and how drugs troubled the young artists and kept them bound like slaves. How those living in Harlem, felt like there was no escape to the poverty that surrounded them. How a young artist was overcoming his demons, with the support of his family and living out his dream. How one has to forgive and not let the past control one’s future, nor let the surroundings of your environment determine where you will go in
James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" analyzes a very complex relationship between the narrator and his brother, Sonny. Before directing to the attention of the relationship between these two brothers, we have to first understand the personality of each character. Initially, the narrator has a stable job as a hardworking math teacher and makes an effort to assimilate himself to his surroundings, but has never comprehended his brother, Sonny. Sonny is the complete opposite of the narrator. Sonny separates from his brother to become a Blues musician, though becomes addicted to drugs, such as heroin, in order to control his own feelings.
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.
Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin was a short story about the struggles of living in a tough, rundown neighborhood and looking to drugs as a way out. Baldwin’s intent on writing this piece focuses on pain and suffering. The author stresses that not everybody is born in the best circumstances. Sonny was one of those people who grew up in a rickety town where people often did not make it out successful.
Sonny is the main character in the story who has been through a lot in life. He wanted to be a jazz musician. After going through all the trouble, Sonny was a great musician and he loved to play music more than anything. He used music to escape from all the bad things around him. Most black people grow up in the slums and it is extremely hard to make it out of there without getting stuck on something bad.
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” uses Sonny as an antagonist character to the protagonist, his eldest brother. While Sonny and his eldest brother both are the center of the stories content, Baldwin uses Sonny to represent a challenge to the narrator of the story. Through the rekindling of a brother’s relationships, Baldwin is able to depict Sonny's motivations and aspirations through his flaws, and the way in which his flaws affected his life. Sonny’s flaws ultimately shape Sonny’s character, his reserved feelings and silent demeanor isolate him from the world, but at the same time contribute to his aspirations and motivations by music.
After hearing that his younger brother, Sonny, has been put in jail due to drug use, he remembers his childhood, and how they both never did really get along. Both Sonny and the narrator feel a sense of “darkness outside”, and this “darkness” is what creates the miscommunication between the brothers (Baldwin 338). Sonny changed his normality due to not being noticed during his childhood, and the drastic change causes the older brother to feel uncomfortable seeing his brother, because Sonny told him that “he was dead as far as [he] was concerned” (351). Their struggles caused them to lose contact, and to slowly build that invisible barrier between their
In James Baldwin's short story, Sonny’s Blues, the reader should understand and visualize the historical context in order to understand the world being presented. The reader has to comprehend the harsh life of a male African-American who struggles with his dreams and drug addiction sometime around early 1957. I will discuss Baldwin's writing style, the life/value of an african american's life during this time, and the relationship between Sonny and his brother. Baldwin’s short story illustrates the hardships a person faces while searching for themselves in a world full of people or obstacles that stand in their way. Some of these obstacles are self inflicted, present from the beginning of their existence or appear as though they are random.
In the story, "Sonny's Blues," James Baldwin portrays Harlem as a place where people are no longer happy and have become trapped. Set after the depression and most likely during and/or after the second world war, Harlem was a time for African Americans to thrive in creative arts; but, it also gave way for poverty and a plethora of drug use. In "Sonny's Blues," the two brothers find their own ways to escape the despair of Harlem; but, through their liberation, they both ultimately complicate their relationship as brothers. Baldwin begins the story with the narrator going to work, as a school teacher, and reading news in the paper that thoroughly upsets him. The narrator at this time believes that he has escaped the entrapment of Harlem through
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. The narrator needs rescue from his guilt of
“Sonny’s Blues” is not just about Sonny's decisions and struggles but also about how they affect the narrator. This story is as much about family and brotherhood and the relationship between these two men as it is about the character of
The narrator took the role of being a big brother serious; however going to the military and keeping distant from Sonny affected his brother in many ways. Sandy Norton states that the narrator was in awe when it came to his brother, he didn’t know how to help Sonny, which is why he chose not to think about his brother’s addiction to heroin. “He is, in fact, A man full of fear, trying to use his relatively privileged social position to protect himself from social reality” (Norton 175-192). This quote explains how the narrator tries to avoid thinking about his little brother being hooked on
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.
I chose to write my Response Essay on the story "Sonny's Blues" written by James Baldwin. In Sonny's Blues, the storyteller recounts the tale of his association with his sibling, Sonny. Sonny is a performer not able to get away from the ghetto. Disheartened by his sibling's suffering , the storyteller connects with him, yet discovers that Sonny's hurt powers his music. The narrator is a teacher in Harlem that has changed his life and got out of the ghetto where he grew up.