Sonny's Blues: A Beat Is Worth A Thousand Words

1573 words - 6 pages

In any medium the last words of an author, lyricist or screenwriter are the most powerful of the entire piece. An ending can completely ruin a perfectly good piece if it isn't what it should be. It can also redeem a mostly mediocre piece by being exactly what it should be. Often the best endings are ones that do not end the way the reader wants them to, but end the way the reader knows they should. Baldwin is definitely an author who knows how to end a story.

The last four paragraphs of `Sonny's Blues' are written in what some people like to call `pencil' form. This means that they are almost interchangeable, they are written in a form where one paragraph could be before another and each could end the story. The order of them does not seem to matter so much as the meaning does. Which in itself shows how much is really packed into each paragraph. The end of this short story is told in a very common narrative form that tells exactly what happened detail by detail. Through the use of "then" as the first word in each paragraph, the narrator expresses to the audience what is happening exactly as it happens to him, piece by piece and feeling by feeling. This gives you a little insight into his psyche in a much more personal way than what an author usually attempts to convey with the word "I," and truly instills a bond between the reader and the narrator. You could almost say it makes you trust him and believe the rest of the story is true. Baldwin's utilization of personified description as well as the flow of his words make the piece read as if it actually was a jazz song by describing the feeling any person who has heard jazz knows. He leaves enough ambiguousness to really make you feel the music through the words, yet gives as much description as needed to really understand what the music must be like. Basically, the real and surreal are as interchangeable as the writing because the jazz portrays life and life portrays jazz.

In the first paragraph the ambiguousness comes to light as he states "Creole began to tell us what the blues were all about." It could have a literal meaning in the sense that Creole could be singing of the blues, actually speaking the words and the definition. It could also mean that the music itself tells the story of the blues. The notes and the melody intertwine to hit a chord as no words ever could. To convey a meaning as no tale ever could. To truly bind the narrator to his brother as no conversation ever could. It is with this paragraph that the narrator really begins to understand his brother and perhaps begins to understand a little more about himself. Baldwin uses this paragraph to describe the affect of music on a human in terms of finding the good in the bad and embracing life as it is. He chooses words in his description commonly associated with music, such as "beat" with"He hit something in all of them, he hit something in me, myself, and the music tightened and deepened apprehension began to beat the...

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