Sonnys Blues Harlem Essay

Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay

1228 Words5 Pages

Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin

A captivating tale of a relationship between two troubling brothers in Harlem, "Sonny's Blues" is told from the perception of Sonny's brother, whose name is never mentioned. Baldwin's choice of Sonny's brother as a narrator is what makes "Sonny's Blues" significant in terms of illustrating the relationship and emotional complications of Sonny and his brother. The significance of "Sonny's Blues" lies in the way Sonny's brother describes their relationship based on what he observes, hears, and feels, and how he struggles trying to understand Sonny through the course of the story. This is a story of how two African Americans brothers take their own path through life as they struggle to find meaning in their…show more content…

The author used the title of the story Sonny's Blues, to give the readers the hint about the theme of the story. The noun "blues" is defined as a mood of unhappiness and depression. This theme is present throughout the story. "Blues" is a style of music that expresses a sad mood. It is synonymous with low spirits and depressed emotions. The "blues," both as a state of being and as music, is basic to the structure of the story, and both the narrator and his brother Sonny have had their share of low spirits.
The opposing lives of the two brothers contribute to the theme of being safe and while being risk takers. In this story, Baldwin writes about two brothers who grew up together. As each of the boys grew older, they fell apart from one another and lived two completely different lives. The narrator, who is the older brother, seemed to be more conservative and more determined to develop a good future. Sonny, the younger brother, was more free-willed and adventurous as he lived in the moment. Sonny did not even know what his plans were for the next hour, much less for the rest of his life. The narrator's major source of discontent has been his selfish desire to learn and lead a respectable, safe life as a high-school algebra teacher. When he learns of

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Sonny's Blues Essay

902 Words4 Pages

Discuss place and how James Baldwin uses elements of setting to convey Sonny’s Blues’ larger message or theme.

Establishing and maintaining a certain identity mostly depends on the setting. The setting allows us to analyze someone at a deeper level. Considering the time, place and the circumstances around under which they respond allows us to explore them and determine their identity. In the short story “Sonny’s Blues”, James Baldwin conveys the message of how one goes about establishing and maintaining their identity on different levels by using elements of setting. The author uses elements of setting several times to convey the message but some of the prominent uses are the military service, life in Harlem and especially the use of…show more content…

Sonny understands this notion and yearns to enlist in the Navy; he was ready to lie about his age. He thought, “if I say I’m old enough, they’ll believe me”, this signifies how eager Sonny was to have the understanding and acceptance that his older brother had. After Sonny returned from the Navy, the narrator still imaged him as someone who “carried himself, loose and dreamlike all the time”. He thought that Sonny had lost all prospects of reality and unfortunately his thoughts came out to be true. The narrators’ time spent in the military allowed him to make that judgment, therefore the setting of the military service established such an identity for the narrator, which made him successful in life and allowed him to help others as well. Also Sonny wanted to enlist in the army so it would take him away from the “killing streets” of Harlem and give him the opportunity to get a college education on the GI Bill.
Living in Harlem established suppressed and fearful identities for the two brothers. For most of their lives they lived in a black and poor neighborhood of Harlem where there was abundance of potential but they’re threatened by the drugs and violence of the urban ghetto. Growing up in such an environment encouraged the narrator to become more understanding of the surroundings, he suspected his own students to “be popping off needles every time they went to the head,” and comes to the

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