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Sonny's Blues By Baldwin Essay

806 words - 3 pages

Sonny's Blues by Baldwin

In Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" two brothers try to live out their lives in the ghetto. This is an urban tale that takes place in some part of Harlem. Sonny tries to live his life as he wants but his brother tries to live his life as a provider for his family. They suffer, survive, and learn while trying to live out their life. This story begins when the narrator finds out that his younger brother has been arrested for either using or selling heroin. The narrator's first response is that its Sonny's problem "what the hell can I do" about it (232). This reaction tells the reader that the narrator is alienated from his brother, who has taken up a life of music and drugs.

The reader now finds out about the narrator's mother and father. Sonny's mother kept on telling her older son to look out for his younger brother. It seems that their mother knew that no matter what family is still family. The reader finds out that some drunk white male killed Sonny's father's brother. This haunts the narrator's father for the rest of his life, because he felt that he could have saved his brother from his death. His mother tells him that he has a brother as well "and the world ain't changed" (239). This is very significant in this story, because the narrator also feels guilt for how his brother is turned out. We find out that the narrator had promised his mother to look after his brother but he abandons his brother in his time of need.

The beginning of "Sonny's Blues" marks an awakening for the narrator. He is faced with Sonny's drug addiction problem. His own grief for the loss of his daughter focuses a new perception. "My trouble made his real" (245). Now the narrator tries to truly understand his younger brother and what he wants out of his life. The narrator must finally come to know his baby brother in order to understand the menace that he had almost died trying to escape. He realizes that he must come to terms with a failure, "the fact that had held silence- so long!- when (Sonny) had needed...

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