What Is The Theme Of Suffering In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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The short story “Sonny’s Blues” was written in 1957. It tells the story of two brothers who each go down very different paths in life. Set in Harlem, New York in the early 50’s, the story is narrated by an unnamed man. Throughout the story, various characters are introduced, as well as various types of suffering. The different types of suffering in the story ranges from drugs to death. Suffering is constant throughout the entire story. In “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, each of the character’s experiences suffering in some type of way and they each deal with it differently. In this initiation story, one thing that Baldwin tries to explain is how people suffer and how they choose to deal with it. The nameless narrator, who is the protagonist,…show more content…
In the story, the narrator is growing up in the 1950’s as a young African American male. Racism in very prominent and the narrator’s neighborhood is infested with drugs. Many people are also dealing with poverty. As Baldwin explains, “There are people suffering from poverty, prostitutes who have been beaten up walk the streets, young men feel the weight of limited possibilities, and "find themselves smothering in their houses" (72). Baldwin gives the readers a visual image of what it is like to grow up in a bad neighborhood. In an environment where such horrendous things are visible to young people, it makes it easy for them to imitate what they witness. The people in the neighborhood know that they have little opportunities in life. The narrator however, does not imitate what he sees. He chooses not to become a product of his environment. He goes on to get married, have children, and get a job as an algebra teacher. Death is also a constant theme of suffering in the narrator’s life, and although it is tragic, the narrator always ends up learning a valuable lesson from it. For instance, when his young daughter suddenly dies from polio, it prompts him to write his imprisoned brother. This is somewhat
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