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Suffering In Sonny’s Blues, By James Baldwin

985 words - 4 pages

Suffering is a part of life and dealing with it is always the hardest part. The short story, “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, describes how each individual character tries to deal or cope with certain happenings that occur throughout the story or their lifespan. These happenings include death, misunderstandings, and the ability to finally deal with hidden suffering. Sonny, Sonny’s older brother, who is also the narrator, Isabel, Sonny’s parents, and Gracie are all a part what creates this short story and essay.
Death is something that is sometimes misunderstood and hard to accept. In James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues”, the reader learns of four deaths that had occurred during the narrator’s life time. One of the deaths that the narrator describes was of his daughter, Gracie. Gracie had died of polio. Originally, she was thought to only have a cold. Four days later, Gracie fell and there was no sound. When Isabel decided to go see, she found her daughter curled up on the floor and not breathing. By the time Gracie found her breath, she let out a horrifying scream. “And when she did scream, it was the worst sound, Isabel says, that she'd ever heard in all her life, and she still hears it sometimes in her dreams. Isabel will sometimes wake me up with a low, moaning, strangling sound and I have to be quick to awaken her and hold her to me and where Isabel is weeping against me seems a mortal wound” (92). From the quote above, the reader can picture the suffering Isabel is under from the lost of her daughter. One can also tell that she has not been able to deal with it completely by her reoccurring nightmares. Losing a child is very hard to deal with. It brings a lot of pain, sadness, but most of all much suffering. It is something that not many people can move on from.
Music has always been said to be a “get away card” for those that need a way out of their own reality. In “Sonny’s Blues”, a character by the name of Sonny goes through certain emotions and situations throughout his lifetime. Sonny is first introduced through a newspaper article that tells the reader about his capture due to the use of heroin. As the story progresses, the reader learns that Sonny has always felt trapped throughout his life. In his feeling of being trapped, the reader learns that he uses two ways to get out. The first is with drugs and the second is through music and playing the piano. ’When she was singing before,” said Sonny, abruptly, “her voice reminded me for a minute of what heroin feels like sometimes-when it’s in your veins. It makes you feel sort of warm and cool at the same time. And distant. And- and sure.” He sipped his beer, very deliberately not looking at me. I watched his face. “It makes you feel-in control. Sometimes you've got to...

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