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"Sonny's Blues" Written By James Baldwin

1358 words - 6 pages

"Sonny's Blues" written by James Baldwin is a story that deals with very real aspects of society and is done so through the use of symbolism and imagery. The story is craftfully written, using lightness and darkness as symbols through out the entire story. Baldwin focuses "Sonny's Blues" on the character of Sonny who is continuously struggling to find what makes him happy. Ultimately, Sonny finds two escapes, one of them being fatal: drug abuse and music.Baldwin opens the story at the school where Sonny's older brother (the speaker) works as a teacher. He reflects on what happened to his brother as he watches the boys in the schoolyard."...here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys ...view middle of the document...

Additionally, Baldwin creates strong imagery in different instances through out the story. For example the speaker, Sonny's brother says:"A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long...It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less. Sometimes it hardened and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream. This would always be at a moment when I was remembering some specific thing Sonny had once said or done" (109).Visually, the author creates vivid images for the reader to see as they are reading the story. This instance could be interpreted as a reference to Sonny's use of heroin. The speaker describes feeling this way when thinking about past things Sonny had done, and perhaps the speaker felt this as he reflected on Sonny's use of heroin. The ice moving slowly up and down his veins could perhaps be linked to Sonny shooting heroin into his own veins.Another instance of the use of lightness and darkness occurs on page 118 when Sonny's brother describes a child's mind as if they know about how hard life truly is, despite the fact that they are viewed as merely an innocent child."The silence, the darkness coming, and the darkness in the faces frightens the child obscurely. He hopes that the hand which strokes his forehead will never stop-will never die...But something deep and watchful in the child knows that this is bound to end, is already ending. In a moment someone will get up and turn on the light...And when light fells the room, the child is filled with darkness. He knows that every time this happens he's moved just a little closer to that darkness outside. The darkness outside is what the old folks have been talking about. It's what they've come from. It's what they endure."In this quote, Sonny's brother is referring to a child being stroked on the forehead by the mother. The child knows that this is ending and that he will be forced into the harshness of the real world all too soon: "he's moved just a little closer that darkness outside. The darkness outside is what the old folks have been talking about. It's what they've come from. It's what they endure."This entire idea directly relates to what happened to Sonny. As Sonny grew up he saw the harshness of life and was unable to find happiness within himself. He grew distant from his family and did his own thing. Sonny became very independent and relied on music to express his inner pain. Sonny also used heroin and other drugs as means...

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