What Leads To Change In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin?

1211 Words5 Pages

Even in the world today, racial tensions remain high as the color of a person’s skin can easily affect their opportunities, but authors such as James Baldwin have created stories that make the reader think about such issues in a new light. Or more specifically, James Baldwin has given a glimpse of the light that is possible in the darkness of cities such as Harlem by giving the reader a glimpse into the impossibly blackness that surrounds a sinkhole, one that many African Americans at the time found themselves in. Within the story, “Sonny’s Blues” Baldwin both directly and indirectly shares how the roots of one’s childhood is a large motivating factor while he also pleads to constantly pursue passion, as it could eventually lead to change, …show more content…

The narrator sadly reflects on the life that they both lived as children growing up in Harlem, and how it affected both him and his brother, just in different ways. He is convinced that jazz music is bad for Sonny, that just like the drugs that he used jazz music was somehow beneath Sonny, and even pulled the man towards the heroin that so many musicians used. Sonny is determined to show his brother the great impact that jazz music has had on his life, convinced that he must follow this passion, that it wasn’t the reason he got into drugs, but rather it was the reason he stayed alive for as long as he …show more content…

This setting is important as this city is greatly known for the struggles that African Americans faced while growing up there. In “Sonny’s Blues” the narrator saw some boys playing in the schoolyard, commenting that “all they really knew were two darknesses, the darkness of their lives, which was now closing in on the, and the darkness of the movies,” (Baldwin “Sonny’s” 99). This reflects on Baldwin’s deeper feelings behind the streets of Harlem, how they tend to serve as a darkness for the boys that grow up there, and added obstacle for the African Americans that already faced an uphill battle. Baldwin himself recounted the first time he started to become self-aware of the environment around him, saying that “I became, in my fourteenth year, for the first time in my life afraid-afraid of the evil within me and the evil without” (Baldwin “Letter”). This is similar to the two darknesses in the story, as maturity for both Baldwin and the narrator lead to a sudden realization of the place in which they were living. This is a prominent part of “Sonny’s Blues”, as the darkness that haunts the streets of Harlem becomes a part of the people that live there, a reality in which James Baldwin experiences

Open Document