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. The story’s narrator is a black algebra teacher, whose name is never revealed, who is living in Harlem, a New York City neighborhood. In the beginning of the story the narrator reads about his brother, Sonny, being busted with heroin in the newspaper.
After hearing that his younger brother, Sonny, has been put in jail due to drug use, he remembers his childhood, and how they both never did really get along. Both Sonny and the narrator feel a sense of “darkness outside”, and this “darkness” is what creates the miscommunication between the brothers (Baldwin 338). Sonny changed his normality due to not being noticed during his childhood, and the drastic change causes the older brother to feel uncomfortable seeing his brother, because Sonny told him that “he was dead as far as [he] was concerned” (351). Their struggles caused them to lose contact, and to slowly build that invisible barrier between their
The narrator starts the story off by reflecting back to when Sonny was a young boy. He then compares his students to Sonny and realizes they could end up like him one day. For that reason, the narrator starts to doubt his
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.
Character analysis essay of the short story “Sonny’s blues” by James Baldwin James Baldwin is considered as the most well-known writer of the 20th century. His writings were mainly concerned by the problem of racism in America since he was one of the figures of the civil rights movement. “Sonny’s blues” is one of his greatest literary works, where we will notice how the persistent racism the writer experienced has had a great impact on his devoted writings. “Sonny’s blues” takes place in Harlem, an Afro-American neighborhood in New York City. Harlem plays a crucial role in this short story, because it is depicted as place where the narrator and his brother must struggle to escape the hustle and bustle of their own reality.
Before the narrator gets married his mother asks him to help Sonny “and don’t let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you gets with him” (Baldwin, 165). Yet time brings memories to a close and the narrator soon forgets his promise. On the subway he reads the paper to discover that Sonny was in jail but doesn’t immediately write him a letter. After the narrator’s daughter, Gracie, dies he writes a letter to Sonny. Sonny writes back and they continue to exchange letters until Sonny comes back to New York.
I chose to write my Response Essay on the story "Sonny's Blues" written by James Baldwin. In Sonny's Blues, the storyteller recounts the tale of his association with his sibling, Sonny. Sonny is a performer not able to get away from the ghetto. Disheartened by his sibling's suffering , the storyteller connects with him, yet discovers that Sonny's hurt powers his music. The narrator is a teacher in Harlem that has changed his life and got out of the ghetto where he grew up.
The story is a first-person story that is narrated by Sonny ‘s brother who provides not only insight into their lives, but also the environment they lived in. The narrator addresses their storyline including the dark sides of his community although he does so with a lot of cautious. With the manner in which the narrator is narrating the story, it is clear that he has got some difficult time when he is expressing his ideas and emotions. The narrator writes after the death of her daughter where he is writing back to his brother.
In “Sonny’s Blues” the past Sonny lived exemplifies how a person can develop regardless of their past. Sonny writes a letter to his brother revealing his great sorrow and hopelessness “ But now I feel like a man who’s been trying to climb up out of some deep, real deep and funky hole.. ”(Sonny’s Blues” 78). Sonny and his brother reached many disagreements due to his poor life choices the consequence of this is that his brother isolated Sonny away from his life.
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
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.
The narrator described the very stereotypical gang members in Harlem being “filled with rage” and “popping off needles every time they went to the head” (Baldwin 123). Lastly, the change in the author's tone was very evident. The readers could notice when the narrator was talking about life in Harlem or Sonny’s drug abuse because it had a very bitter and cold tone. However, when Sonny was talking about his music the tone was hopeful and positive. Baldwin wanted to show that music was the one thing helping with Sonny’s pain.
He even goes as far as to compare his allure to music as “…what heroin feels like sometimes—when it's in your veins" (p. 57). Following this statement, Sonny says that music and heroin alike both make him feel "sure" (p. 57). The significance of what Sonny is saying is that his motivations by music can also be attributed to addiction to drugs. With Sonny finding his solace in music, he used the drugs to find solace in his everyday life to make him feel connected to his surroundings when he wasn’t playing.
The narrator took the role of being a big brother serious; however going to the military and keeping distant from Sonny affected his brother in many ways. Sandy Norton states that the narrator was in awe when it came to his brother, he didn’t know how to help Sonny, which is why he chose not to think about his brother’s addiction to heroin. “He is, in fact, A man full of fear, trying to use his relatively privileged social position to protect himself from social reality” (Norton 175-192). This quote explains how the narrator tries to avoid thinking about his little brother being hooked on
In James Baldwin's short story, Sonny’s Blues, the reader should understand and visualize the historical context in order to understand the world being presented. The reader has to comprehend the harsh life of a male African-American who struggles with his dreams and drug addiction sometime around early 1957. I will discuss Baldwin's writing style, the life/value of an african american's life during this time, and the relationship between Sonny and his brother. Baldwin’s short story illustrates the hardships a person faces while searching for themselves in a world full of people or obstacles that stand in their way. Some of these obstacles are self inflicted, present from the beginning of their existence or appear as though they are random.