Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin: Literary Analysis

1396 Words6 Pages
Erika Malloy
Dr. Rachel Bowman-Abdi
20, October 2015

Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin is the story of two brothers. One is a teacher and the narrator of the story while the other lives a life of sorrow and struggle. The narrator gives his point of view of Sonny’s situation. Sonny reminds him of the troubled youth that have limited, if any possibilities in life. The narrator is visited by a friend from Sonny’s past and then after reaches out to his brother. Sonny invites him to come hear him play and that is when the narrator understands his brother and in turn understands he himself.
James Baldwin was raised by a single mother and later stepfather who was a Baptist minister. He attended school in the Bronx and developed a passion for
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(European Graduate School) His influences during his time were Black people, his struggles growing up, and his continued life. He often pulled from the struggles of Black lives and his own. He discussed many topics in his writing, some being poverty, discrimination, drugs and much more. One in particular theme that would appear in his writings would be loneliness based on the characters situation but mainly due to race. (European Graduate School) In Sonny’s Blues Baldwin shows both his influence of from Black people and drug addiction to the loneliness that situations create and how isolation occurs during troubling times.
Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin is a story of struggle and redemption through others. James Baldwin uses the narrator the story from a first person point of view which leads to a sense of disorientation in the reader and contributes to the stories theme of forgiveness. The reader is disoriented because the story is told in first person point of view. The narrator tells Sonny’s story and his story at the same time which can also cause a sense of disorientation in the reader. Moreover, because the narrator is telling the story in first person it gives the reader filtered
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He is very detailed and descriptive in his writing. His writing style takes the readers imagination exactly where he wants it to go. It is as if I am right there with the narrator, Sonny, or the people at the bar or the subway. His writing is not only descriptive but poetic in a way. His poetic writing is quite fitting for the title of the story “Sonny’s Blues” For instance; Baldwin writes “Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us to be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did.” (Baldwin 148) This also shows how descriptive Baldwin is in his writing. Another example of Baldwin’s descriptiveness is “He smiled-but sat sideways on the sofa, his elbow resting on the back of his fingers playing with his mouth and chin, not looking at me.” (Baldwin
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