Using his writing as a form of self-expression, James Baldwin, an African American author, spent his life seeking to reveal the cruel reality of African American men. “Sonny Blues” Baldwin’s short fiction, was published in 1957 and takes place during the Harlem Renaissance. The literary work tells the story of Sonny and his brother (an unnamed narrator), as they seek to understand how to navigate the delicate and dangerous waters of familial relationships, their role in society and themselves. However, it is not until the end of the story when Sonny’s brother narrates the powerful, melodic sound of Sonny’s blues that he acknowledges his own pain. It is during his epiphany, when he finally begins to understand Sonny’s pain and the pain of every generation who came before him and after him. Baldwin’s acknowledgement as he declares, “I knew, no matter what anybody said, that the future I faced, was not the future they faced”
Paul Pearshall once said “Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted”. In this story the conflict of responsibility takes place. A brother, who happens to be the narrator, blames his self for the events that takes place in his life, such as his brother sonny’s crack addiction. The Narrator feels responsible for his brother’s heroin addiction because he believed he shut his brother’s career goals down, felt as though he went against what his mother asked him to do, and because he chose not to believe that the way he treated his brother affected his brother life.
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.
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.
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.
How does Baldwin's real-life experience connect to his short story, "Sonny's Blues"? Read Baldwin's biography for more background on his life.
Baldwin’s intent on writing this piece focuses on pain and suffering. The author stresses that not everybody is born in the best circumstances. Sonny was one of those people who grew up in a rickety town where people often did not make it out successful. He tried so hard to get out of the poverty, violence, drugs, and gangs, but he became influenced by the wrong people and fell into heroin. Baldwin wanted the show the readers that people cope with pain and suffering in different ways. However, Sonny had a passion for music and wanted to become a jazz musician. This was also his way of coping with
Sonny is the main character in the story who has been through a lot in life. He wanted to be a jazz musician. After going through all the trouble, Sonny was a great musician and he loved to play music more than anything. He used music to escape from all the bad things around him. Most black people grow up in the slums and it is extremely hard to make it out of there without getting stuck on something bad. As said in the story “Some escaped the trap, most didn’t. those who got out always left something of themselves behind, as some animals amputate a leg and leave it in the trap” (Baldwin pg. 129). Both the narrator and sonny was able to escape the overpowering pull of Harlem in different ways. The narrator of the Sonny’s Blues was able to get out and he lived a happy life, having a family and a career while sonny got stuck and ended up doing drugs and eventually got himself arrested. The narrator was an algebra teacher. Being black in America for most people means you have to face discrimination, and live the hard life at slums. However, as time goes on, there are more and more successful African
Psychologist Robert Berezin says that, “Human struggle is not a brain problem, but a human problem.” (Berezin 1) In the short story “Sonny’s Blues,” the author James Baldwin reveals the dark truth about human nature, and through a psychoanalytic criticism perspective it can reveal how people cope with their suffering and problems. The main character, Sonny, is suffering from the hardships that many people face throughout life. Sonny’s suffering becomes so unbearable that he refuses to accept this inevitable situation, and seeks relief and control through the use of jazz and drugs.
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,
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.
With “Puppy” two ladies have different perspectives on how to raise their children. Saunders delivers one informative scene from each woman’s life before permitting the women to engage. As with, “Sonny’s Blues” the narrator and Sonny go through hardships after the death of their mother. “Puppy” by George Saunders and “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin switches between two perspectives of the characters. Marie and the narrator in both of the stories essentially feel that it is not worth the trouble to help out the other two characters.
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.
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” uses Sonny as an antagonist character to the protagonist, his eldest brother. While Sonny and his eldest brother both are the center of the stories content, Baldwin uses Sonny to represent a challenge to the narrator of the story. Through the rekindling of a brother’s relationships, Baldwin is able to depict Sonny's motivations and aspirations through his flaws, and the way in which his flaws affected his life.
Sonny’s Blues incorporates racial frustration, self-expression, avoidance, lightness/darkness and symbolic nature of music. Baldwins descriptive mental images gives readers a sense of the time frame the characters are in. With our understanding of the setting we are able to understand how life was like in the 1940s and why the theme of racism plays a factor in these characters lives. Through this short story Baldwin manages to show pain ,and hardships and the journey that is needed to transcend from