“Sonny’s Blues” is a short story written by James Baldwin that reflects on the ongoing struggles between failure and atonement amongst two brothers. The older brother who is also the narrator, gives us insight on the struggles in Harlem, and the life he had with his drug addicted younger brother, Sonny. As we follow the narrator, we later discover who Sonny really is. Published in the mid nineteen hundreds, the burdensome of living in Harlem in “Sonny’s Blues” reflects the life that James Baldwin endured.
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.
They both went through the same childhood, but handled it differently. The narrator was more mature and had set goals. While Sonny, fell into the depth of his feeling and influences. The narrator cares for his brother and feels as if he has failed him. While his brother feels like he could never truly explain anything to the narrator. Although both characters were different they found an understanding by trying to feel what each other were feeling. Also by coping with their tough childhood and feelings together without directly communicating. Sonny wanted so desperately to please his brother, but couldn’t find a way to avoid Jazz but still get that feeling he craved. Sonny was clearly disappointed and embarrassed by his choice of actions and despite what anyone said, he realized the choice he made was poor and it was time to follow his dream. At the end, the narrator realizes why Sonny turned to drugs in the first place. Sonny wanted his brother to see how Jazz made him feel and his brother saw that when he watched Sonny play. Sonny never wanted drugs, he wanted
This particular paragraph in “Sonny’s Blues” is incredibly important to the development and resolution of the story. At this moment, the narrator is watching his brother play the piano for the first time. He is overwhelmed by the sensations he receives from the music and also gains insight on his brother’s life. The narrator realizes that music is how Sonny expresses his feelings and how he copes with the struggles of everyday life. Without this paragraph, we lose the breakthrough moment the narrator has regarding his relationship with his brother. It also shows the dependence Sonny has on the piano and his addiction to the music. Sonny and the narrator finally come to a mutual understanding of one another in this scene.
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. Throughout the story he struggles to keep this promise. At the end of the story Sonny invites the narrator to come to a music club and hear him play, he accepts the invite. Upon arrival the narrator realizes he is in Sonny’s world. Hearing Sonny play only one set he is in awe and sends his brother a drink of scotch with milk. Sonny accepts it and gives a nod of approval to his brother across the room. In that moment the narrator finally understands Sonny’s love for music. Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” displays the theme of brotherly love to illustrate, that love can keep a family together no matter how many fights or issues there may be.
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.
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
The brothers represent not only Baldwin himself, but their entire culture as well. Moreover, the blues express the battles, the condition and the rage that comes with being a black man in American society (Fares 72). The blues are a mutual understanding of suffering between every single person in the community; they are symbolic of the love that lets them bear the weight of the world in their shoulders with confidence because they know they are not alone. Baldwin wrote “Sonny’s Blues” to show that only an individual holds the power to accept their own suffering, and only when they come to terms with their pain, will they begin to understand the pain of those before them like the narrator did during his epiphany. In unison, they will set a framework for the generations that follow as they try to find a solution to their overall role in
In “Sonny’s Blues,” James Baldwin wrote a different type coming of age story. At the end of the story the narrator finally develops a new understanding for his brother, and forgives him.
For all the characters, Sonny was a son who helped his family and embraced his African heritage; these features were really considered and respected. Contrary to the narrator who melted or tried to melt in the American culture in order to survive, but the turning point occurred when he lost his daughter; so he recognize the pain of the others as well as his brother that he was forgotten during years ago. Besides, thanks to his brother’s music the narrator finds redemption. The evolution of the character’s trait moves from being a selfish person to a suffering man who finally finds peace deep inside himself.
This was to take up the responsibility that was given to him and to let his brother know that he has someone on his corner. “I was sitting in the living room in the dark, by myself, and I suddenly thought of Sonny. My trouble made his real” (Baldwin 378). This shows that the brother has grown sympathy for Sonny. This is because his daughter’s death caused him to really sit down and evaluate the series of events that has taken place in Sonny’s life. The narrator says that Sonny’s trouble became surreal when the narrator was put in the position of losing someone dear to
Throughout one’s life, one tends to adapt to the traditions of their family, and gain a significant bond with their loved ones, including their siblings. However, that connection a person gains can either be diminished or forgotten due to a sense of different mindsets between family members. The two stories “The Rich Brother” by Tobias Wolff and “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin indicate that sibling rivalry occurs when each member does not understand or acknowledge their sibling’s perspective, and this builds a wall barrier between the siblings.
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blue’s” makes great use of different literary devices throughout the story. The author utilizes conflict, symbolism, and the narrator’s point of view to give the story a deeper meaning and significance to the story. Sonny’s Blue’s is about an older brother’s relationship and differences with his younger brother, Sonny. Sonny’s ambition to become a jazz pianist points him into an opposite direction than his brother, and into a place where the common suffering is handled with drugs and music. The fundamental differences between these two brothers in their lack of understanding for each other and their gradual acceptance of one another, is presented and explained by their personal and social conflicts, what the symbolism casts upon the story,
Moving on to “Sonny's Blues” that is told in the first person from the point of view of an unnamed narrator who, we find out, is Sonny’s brother. The narrator in this story is an interesting figure. He’s mostly telling us Sonny's story, and this would seem to make him a peripheral character instead of a central one. But this is also his story. “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
Both Sonny and his brother search for who they are. The elderly brother who never understood his younger sibling was always watching him pushing moral values on him, which does more harm than good. In the end both find themselves and Sonny’s brother finally understands him.