Relationship Of Racism In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues,” tells the story of two brothers living in 1950s Harlem. The story depicts the relationship of the brothers as the younger brother, Sonny, battles to overcome a heroin addiction and find a career in jazz. In “Sonny’s Blues”, Baldwin’s shifting portrayal of Harlem mirrors the changing relationship of the two brothers: while both the city and the relationship were originally with dark uncertainty, by the end of the story, the narrator has begun to find peace both within his surroundings and his relationship with his brother. At the beginning of the story, before Sonny returns to Harlem, the narrator never describes his surroundings, only the people in them. He mentions that he is in the subway, a school, and…show more content…
He describes the childhood friend of Sonny as being “high and raggy” and smelling “funky,” and later a woman as having a “battered face” and being a “semi-whore” (68-69). These vivid character descriptions sharply contrast the strong lack of environmental descriptions found at the beginning of the story. These environmental descriptions are not yet found because Sonny has not yet come back to the city. Since the environment is used as a tool for describing the relationship between the brothers, it can not be described fully until the relationship is at play. As soon as the narrator is reunited with Sonny, he begins to fully describe his surroundings. At this point in the relationship, the narrator is excited to see his brother, but extremely scared for both Sonny’s future and the future of their
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