The short story "Sonny's Blues" is Baldwin's most highly acclaimed treatment of his signature themes: Set in the early s in New York City, the story is narrated by an unnamed man who relates his attempts to come to terms with his long estranged brother, Sonny, a jazz musician. Reilly, noting that an "outstanding quality of the Black literary tradition in America is its attention to the interdependence of personal and social experience," has concluded that "Sonny's Blues" both depicts and manifests the belief that the "artful expression of personal yet typical experience is one way to freedom. As he ponders the meaning of Sonny's situation and of his own fraternal obligations, the narrator recalls scenes and impressions from his childhood.
It follows the struggle of two brothers—the narrator, a high school teacher, and Sonny, a jazz pianist—to understand each other, and in the process explores the struggles of a black family to get by in a white-dominated society. His brother had been in a run-in with the law for dealing heroine, and the incident nags at him throughout the day.
Having distanced himself from his brother for years, the narrator is stoic about the whole incident until Sonny himself arrives in New York. Gradually, the brothers bridge the gap they had built over the years and accept the different ways in which they dealt with their fates.
More importantly, they shared the same sad story: It ends, of course, the day he comes to see Sonny perform at a Harlem club.
He had made it his: And he was giving it back, as everything must be given back, so that, passing through death, it can live forever. Although there are few other displays of racism, its influences are felt, in an almost omnipresent way, throughout the story.
Their mother suffers from seeing them suffer, and knowing that young Sonny suffers the most. The narrator also suffers, although he has blended into Harlem better than the rest of his family.
The story itself shows how his personal issues come to define, and eventually change, his feelings toward his brother. These were the darkness of their own lives, and the darkness that the movies have wrought on their imaginations.
But it may also be read on a more upfront level: This physical darkness shadows over their lives, but it also drives them into the paths they choose—the narrator in his steady if conventional career, Sonny in his eccentricity, and their father in his vehement hatred towards whites.
The contrast between the two brothers is clear from the outset: Baldwin uses ice and blood as metaphors to distinguish the ways in which each brother deals with emotion.
Reading and Writing About Literature.More Essay Examples on Literature Rubric. Sonny’s Blues is a short story by New York-raised writer James Baldwin, whose works mostly deal with racial and sexual discrimination in 20th-century America.
Symbolism in James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues Essay Words | 5 Pages. Symbolism in James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues Missing Works Cited Several passages found throughout "Sonny's Blues" indicate that as a whole, the neighborhood of Harlem is in the turmoil of a battle between good and evil. Academic Writing Service.
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The story Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin explores the theme of suffering experienced by Black Americans. Essays, words.
Ever since man emerged on our planet, the beauty of nature all around him has mesmerized him. The plants, animals, mountains, lakes and . Sonny's Blues James Baldwin Sonny's Blues essays are academic essays for citation.
These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin. ”Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin Essay Sample. James Baldwin’s short story, Sonny’s Blues, is a story about the narrator’s younger brother, Sonny, who has been in trouble with selling and using heroin, and how the narrator deals with it.
Themes in Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay. Themes in Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin After reading the short story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin, I find there are two major themes that Baldwin is trying to convey, suffering and irony.