Social Issues In Sonny's Blues

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“[H]er voice reminded me for a minute of what heroin feels like sometimes — when it’s in your veins. It makes you feel sort of warm and cool at the same time. It makes you feel — in control. Sometimes you’ve got to have that feeling” (142). James Baldwin was a popular African-American novelist and essayist whose themes include human suffering, race/racism, social identity, sexuality and numerous others. Moreover, Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” centers on the social issue of drug use in the music scene as the story’s main characters—Sonny, a jazz musician, and ex-heroin addict, and the narrator, Sonny’s older brother, try to reconcile after one of them reads in the paper that the other has been arrested. The text demonstrates both characters that have taken different paths and the outcomes for both—the narrator has a job, family, and a place to live but is dealing with identity issues and with feeling truly “happy”, while Sonny has ended up with a heroin addiction and in prison. Baldwin presents many social issues within the short story, but the one that stands out most is the use of drugs amongst musicians, which is still ongoing as you have popular names such Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, etc. who have died as a result; it is clear that this is still a social issue. Just like the…show more content…
From this point on, the nameless narrator begins to recall memories from his childhood such as the promise he made to his mother before her death, the time he was away serving in the army, and the conversation he had with Sonny about what he wanted to do in life. What follows this are the two brothers trying to pick up where the left off after Sonny’s release, which is where the story’s theme of drugs and music become even
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