“Sonny Blues” is a narrative of a young

Topic: CultureWorldwide Cultures
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Last updated: September 1, 2019

“SonnyBlues” is a narrative of a young man’s development to adulthood at a place, theHarlem ghetto, where it is less demanding to remain a cunning youngster.

  James Baldwin copes with a man’s needs todiscover his character in an unfriendly society, and his capacity to comprehendhimself through creative measures.  In”Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin utilized biblical stories and figurative language asan establishment for his fiction story. Fromthe title of the story to the ending scene, music plays a leading part incharacterizing the characters and culture of Harlem.  At a young age, Sonny chooses he wants tobecome a jazz musician, a choice his brother disagrees with.  For Sonny, the world is different from the onehis brother experienced during his childhood and, subsequently needs newcreative structures to pass on its reality.  The music that Sonny plays is based more onpure expression of the soul.  Consideringmusicians like Sonny, the ability to express oneself through jazz music was an opportunityto live openly, defy social traditions and standards, and to make somethingcompletely unique.

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Throughoutthe story, Baldwin uses imagery of dark and light to portray the struggles thebrothers faced growing up black in Harlem. We see the first sign of darkness, when the narrator reads the headlineof his brother’s arrest, the narrator’s face is described as “trapped in thedarkness which roared outside” (58).  Fromthen on, Baldwin uses darkness at times of despair, fear, and hopelessness.

   Baldwinutilizes light to emphasize warmth, love, comfort, and desire in hischaracters’ lives.  Not only does lightillustrate to the best components of life, however it likewise symbolizes atype of salvation and elegance.  To livein the light is to live a genuine life.  Atthe jazz club, Baldwin describes the light in the people’s faces, and thenarrator notices that the music is “the only light we’ve got in all thisdarkness: (77).Baldwinuses Cain and Abel from the Bible to illustrate the relationship of thenarrator and Sonny.  In the story of Cainand Abel, Cain kills Abel, and he then asks whether he’s supposed to be hisbrother’s keeper.

Sonny and his brother has a similar story after the death oftheir mother. Since the death of their mother, Sonny’s life has been defaced byimprisonment and drug abuse.  Much likeCain, the narrator walks out on his brother Sonny, neglecting to satisfy hismom’s desires, “then he stood up and told me no to worry about him anymore inlife, that he was dead as far as I was concerned” (Baldwin 71). However, as thestory comes to an end, the narrator takes on the role of being his brother’s keeper,always watching over Sonny as he overcomes the darkness of prison and drugabuse.


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