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Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin Essay

1100 words - 4 pages

"Sonny's Blues"

If you were not able to talk to anyone, nor did people want to listen to what you have to say, would that affect you? In the short story, "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin, Baldwin writes about two brothers, Sonny and the narrator, who lose communication between one another because Sonny goes to prison. The narrator, having to make a promise to their mother before her death, was to take care and watch over his young brother Sonny no matter what. This turned out not to be the case and the narrator did not pay much attention to his brother's goals as well as doings. By the end of the story, the audience realizes that the only place where the narrator can understand and feel for his brother is at the place where Sonny finds his passion, the jazz club. Why is communication such a big deal? Communication is a key essential for knowing ones' feelings and thoughts, whether communicating verbally, through body language, and even through music. The theme of "Sonny's Blues" is communication; the lack of being able to speak and to be heard can affect a person's achievements and failures throughout their life. The narrator lacks listening to Sonny's desires of becoming a musician, and does not oversee his brother's drug addiction because he was too caught up on his career as a mathematics teacher. The lack of communication can sometimes anger and confuse a person, which occurs with Sonny. How would the story change if the narrator gave attention to his younger brother? What did he need in order to resolve the distance between them? Communication was needed. Effective communication involves listening to another person speak while giving positive feedback. Sonny finds his way of getting through to people by playing jazz. Through the music, the instruments, the piano, jazz helped him share his feelings, his life, with others. This was the way he was able to speak which was not possible when done verbally.

Listening is fundamental in communicating with others. The narrator hardly listened to his brother regardless if it was about his goals in life. When Sonny first brought up the idea of becoming a jazz musician, his brother responded by saying, "Are you serious" (p.90). In addition, Sonny's brother did not take his brother's remark seriously and told him to start thinking about his future. The narrator wanted Sonny to finish school and get a decent job, anything besides playing jazz for a living. "I gave up. I decided, if he didn't change his mind, that we could always talk about it later" (p.91). This clearly exemplifies that the narrator ignored his brother. He must have looked at Sonny as his younger brother, where he thought Sonny was not able to make the right decisions because of his age at the time and needed guidance. The narrator lacked patience in listening as well as replied with negative responses that demonstrated bad communication. In order to solve this problem, Sonny's brother should have listened...

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