The Theme Of Isolation In Previous Condition And Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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In fiction, the narrator controls how the audience connects to and perceives the various characters in a story. A good author can manipulate the narration to connect the audience to certain characters and deepen the reader’s understanding of their conflicts. In “Previous Condition” and “Sonny’s Blues,” James Baldwin illustrates themes of loneliness and isolation in the pursuit of finding a space that feels like home. Although this theme is clear in both stories, Baldwin is able to portray it very differently in each story through the relationship he allows the reader to the characters struggling with these feelings. While “Previous Condition” provides a more intimate relationship to the narrator, “Sonny’s Blues” is able to deliver an additional level of understanding by telling the story through Sonny’s brother, therefore disconnecting the reader in a way that forces him or her to share the characters’ feelings of isolation and confusion.
Baldwin’s creative style in both stories effectively gives his audience perspective and insight into these themes, permitting a deeper comprehension of how they relate to the world outside of his stories.
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This is not to say that “Previous Condition” is lacking as a story, but it shows that a more complex style of narration has the potential to offer the reader a deeper understanding of what the characters are going through. Baldwin’s earlier attempt does a good job expressing the feelings and emotions that he had probably been experiencing most of his life. It is more introspective and shows the relationship of an individual with the society he feels so trapped inside. With “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin is able to show this same relationship, but does more to dissect the relationships between the individual and various aspects of society, such as friends, neighbors, and family, as
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