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Sonny’s Blues, By James Baldwin Essay

2001 words - 9 pages

“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin this story is about two brothers that grew up and still live in Harlem and the ways they handle the pain and suffering that have happened in their lives. The city of Harlem plays an important role in this story because both brothers’ are trying to escape where they came from. Feeling trapped by his surroundings Sonny turned to drugs. The narrator of the story, as we learn later on is Sonny’s older brother, reads in the newspaper that Sonny had been picked up, the evening before, in a raid on an apartment downtown, for peddling and doing heroin (Baldwin, 2012). The narrator felt scared and feared what would happen to Sonny you see this when it states, “It was ...view middle of the document...

He feels that he has to help his younger brother in whatever way he possible can because he states “my troubles made his real” (Baldwin, 2012), when before he didn’t consider Sonny’s troubles because “everyone has a sad story” (Baldwin, 2012). He picked Sonny up the day he was released from jail and brought him home to live with him and his family. The first night was awkward for both of them and he sat and watched his brother trying to figure out if he was really off drugs or not. After Sonny was there in his home for two weeks his brother found his self there alone and fought with his self about whether or not to search Sonny’s room. His brother wasn’t for sure if Sonny was clean or not, he didn’t want to think about what he might find and then found his self looking out the window and getting caught up in the old fashion revival meeting people were holding outside. Sonny comes home and talking with his brother he invites him to come listen to him play at a local bar. His brother agrees even though he doesn’t understand the jazz music that Sonny enjoys so much. Talking to his brother trying to understand what he is going through and what he went through but was unable to wrap his head around everything. When Sonny begins to play and gets into the music his brother realizes that this is Sonny’s escape, his escape from pain, Harlem, from the drugs and everything that was wrong in his life. Jazz is Sonny’s freedom his way to express what he feels.
Reading this story we see Sonny as a troubled youth. We sympathize with Sonny because of the world he lives in. We see Sonny as someone that has given into the streets and life in Harlem. Sonny has a dream to become a great jazz musician but the environment of Harlem has threatened to destroy his dream and he ended up in jail. Sonny is released from jail and is forced to deal with his drug addiction and his pain. Sonny turns to jazz music to deal with what is going on in his life. Sonny character changes during the story by using music to deal with his problems in life therefore he doesn’t have to turn to drug anymore. Jazz is Sonny’s freedom, his way to communicate with others about what he feels and what’s going on jazz is everything to Sonny even his salvation.
We see that Sonny’s brother, the narrator, has pain in his life as well. His brother’s pain is that he didn’t hold up to a promise he had made to his mother and the death of his daughter. His brother deals with this pain by interacting with others and with family. Through most of the story he is withdrawn from Sonny but he would like to have a relationship with him, he doesn’t know how to go about it. He doesn’t understand Sonny but loves him as a brother should. These two brothers are looking at the same world but each seeing something differently just like when they were going to the apartment after Sonny was released from jail and they were looking out different windows of the cab. Sonny’s brother wants to protect him as an older...

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