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Sonny’s Blues, By James Baldwin Essay

958 words - 4 pages

Symbolism is such an interesting aspect of stories that when you take the time to sit back and analyze after initially reading it, things seem to pop out at you. Something so small could mean something so great to the story and it may not occur to the reader until they have read through a few times. In “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, symbolism was used quite a bit to represent different aspects of the story. One main use of symbolism was darkness, and it was used in many different scenes within the story. Light was also symbolized a bit within the story, specifically at the end.
I found the representation darkness within the story to be at times subtle, but it helps the reader to see the characters in a clearer way. At first, the narrator tells us of two darknesses, “the darkness of their lives, which was now closing in on them, and the darkness of the movies, which had blinded them to that other darkness…” (36). This is where he first describes the darkness. Here darkness has a negative view from our narrator. He portrays the boy’s futures to be dark after telling the reader how they were being rushed to grow up and filled with rage. He uses the image of darkness of movies to represent their focuses now. Their focuses now of watching movies for example is keeping them from seeing what their future will be come.
Later on, he associates darkness again with Sonny’s friend who he meets. He described him as having “dark brown skin and it made his eyes look yellow” (37) and he continues to tell us about dirt that he can see and his kinked hair. The man sounds disgusting and we later find out that he may have unconsciously been one of the reasons why Sonny started using heroin. He talked of the positives of being high, but he felt guilty for it considering where Sonny ended up. So far, the story seems gloomy, sad, and dark.
The narrator mentions a time he remembers his mother the most, on Sundays when everyone was gathered in the living room after dinner, sitting around. He mentions the dark quite a bit, like how the night was creeping in on them turning everything dark. People’s faces were becoming dark and they would all be “looking at something a child can't see” (43). The darkness scares the child because he thinks of a time when people will not be there anymore implying that they have passed on and things have changed. This is what the darkness represents in this scenario, even when the light comes on the darkness is still there because the child knows that the time will come when his fear becomes a reality. In this case, the light does not win and the darkness becomes...

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