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 …show more content…
There was an unspoken hate between them and he did not like the way Sonny carried himself or the people he was friends with. He blames this, and the way Sonny is living, on his music claiming, "his music seemed to be merely an excuse for the life he led" (83). The narrator did his best to mend his broken relationship with Sonny, but it only resulted in a fight and Sonny said that "he was dead as far as I [the narrator] was concerned" (83). The narrator was fearful that Sonny would be just like all the other musicians around Harlem and the surrounding cities. After the disagreement he did not talk to Sonny, even following the news his arrest, until after his little girl, Grace died. When Grace died, the narrator finally wrote Sonny and kept in touch as much as he could after that, inviting him to stay with him after he was released from prison. The narrator was scared that he was "simply bringing [Sonny] back into the danger he had almost died trying to escape" (74), by bringing him to his house; but, he felt an obligation to his mother to take care of Sonny like he promised to but failed. The strain of the argument and the tension of Sonny's arrest was obvious as Isabel is the only reason Sonny felt comfortable. The fact that Isabel and her family only endured Sonny and his music was only for his brother still bothered him and he would avoid being …show more content…
Through this conversation, the narrator gained respect and insight on Sonny's life in the times that he was not there. Sonny was cryptic in his speaking at first but eventually made it very clear to his brother and even said, "the reason I wanted to leave Harlem so bad was to get away from drugs" (89). The narrator does not have much to say, but ultimately blames all of this on the "vivid, killing streets of [their] childhood" (73), that neither of them had truly escaped. He once thought they both had, him by becoming a teacher and Sonny by simply not living in Harlem for years, but in this moment, he realizes that not much has really changed - they still faced those streets, the only difference now was that they knew what they inherit. Sonny convinced his brother to come watch him play - the narrator knowing he could not possibly say no. And even though Sonny had not played in years, the narrator claimed his "fingers filled the air with life, his life' (92), and the narrator began to feel at peace with his brother's decisions; realizing that music is what made him happy. Although Baldwin portrayed Harlem as this unescapable place, both brothers found their escape. They may not have been real escapes, but they at least felt free at some point, even though they were not together through hardships they both endured. The narrator never changes his view on Harlem, but his view on
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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.
James Baldwin is a renowned author best known for his work of essays, books and short stories, particularly those which dwell deeply into important social and psychological issues of discrimination, gender inequality, homophobia and so on. One of Mr. Baldwin 's most appreciated literary works is the short story 'Sonny 's Blues ' which focuses on two brothers who grew up together but take different paths in life. The story follows the narrator learning about his brother Sonny 's incarceration due to the use and selling of drugs until his brother gets parole. Throughout the story, we learn about the relationship between the pair and are able to witness the narrators ultimate understanding of Sonny and his ambition. As we continue to observe the impressive short story, we find the most recurring theme to be that of sorrow.
Before the narrator gets married his mother asks him to help Sonny “and don’t let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you gets with him” (Baldwin, 165). Yet time brings memories to a close and the narrator soon forgets his promise. On the subway he reads the paper to discover that Sonny was in jail but doesn’t immediately write him a letter. After the narrator’s daughter, Gracie, dies he writes a letter to Sonny. Sonny writes back and they continue to exchange letters until Sonny comes back to New York.
Sonny's Blues was written in 1957, 37 years after the roaring twenties had come to an end. Long after the great Migration, where millions of blacks moved to northern cities to escape Jim Crow, and embrace the new found possibilities offered. During this period African-Americans in New York, collectively gathered in Harlem mainly, it was usually alluded to as the black capital. There blacks shared culturally and also, influenced music greatly. This is also where the "new negro" persona was crafted, blacks were no longer going to be referred to as someone's mammies or boy.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
James Baldwin, Sonny's Blues Lesson: Read 1. 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. - James Baldwin’s real-life experience connects to his short story by demonstrating that in the story his father had passed away when he was a young age. In real life, he didn’t even know his father.
“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
“Sonny’s Blues,” written by James Baldwin discusses conflicts between two brothers in hopes of mending their relationship. “Sonny’s Blues” begins with the unnamed narrator reading a piece of paper with information regarding the trouble his brother Sonny has gotten himself into. The narrator has not been communicating with his brother during this period, but after the death of his two-year-old daughter Grace, he writes Sonny a letter. Once Sonny has been released, he goes back to Harlem to live with the narrator, and the narrator forces him into staying with his fiancé Isabel and her family because he believes Sonny deserves the opportunity to receive an education. Sonny makes it known to the narrator that he does not want to go back to school
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.
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.
As said in the story “Some escaped the trap, most didn’t. those who got out always left something of themselves behind, as some animals amputate a leg and leave it in the trap” (Baldwin pg. 129). Both the narrator and sonny was able to escape the overpowering pull of Harlem in different ways. The narrator of the Sonny’s Blues was able to get out and he lived a happy life, having a family and a career while sonny got stuck and ended up doing drugs and eventually got himself arrested. The narrator was an algebra teacher.