The Discovery Of Identity And Blues In James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues

1664 words - 7 pages

A common idea of James Baldwin is that he happens to write more significant essays rather than fictions or dramatic pieces. However, his most common theme of choice, ones discovery of self-identity- is elaborately broadcasted and exhibited greatly in his short story “Sonny’s Blues”. First circulated in the late fifties and then again in the mid-sixties, "Sonny's Blues" explains Baldwin’s reasons for his famous arguments in the arena of Black freedom, while also providing a visual bonding of his work across multiple genres, with the ways and understandings of the urban Black community.
The essential and gradual progression of “Sonny’s Blues” symbolizes the measured adaptation of the ...view middle of the document...

“All that hatred down there,” he said. “All that hatred and misery and love. It’s a wonder it doesn’t blow the avenue apart.”(). After Sonny is released from prison he makes this statement about the avenue. He passes through a revival ceremony being held, where they promise salvation to the people. Sonny does not actually believe that salvation will be given. Baldwin’s story is just as much about the people of Harlem and their struggles, as a whole, as it is about Sonny’s life, experiences, and ordeals. The entire community seems to have a complicated and confusing nature about itself. The community as a whole is not at all completely dreadful, nor is the community as a whole completely delightful. The community manages to display the correct blend of pleasure and delight, as well as, pain and dread. These things help to keep Harlem alive but may also serve as the thing that destroys the people of the city. Sonny was concerned with this. He was concerned for the people, particularly the youth, who lived in the city. The people were faced with conflicting emotions and feelings throughout every day. Sonny was able to recognize what that type of living might to do people because he understood what it had done to him. He knew the effects it had on his life and the things he choose to do as a result. Sonny knew that eventually they would need an escape from that conflicting vibes that radiated throughout Harlem daily. He was able to see the risk and danger involved with existing in an environment that was so challenged. Sonny’s only escape was Blues.
While compelling himself into the popular music group Sonny made various attempts to create an advantage out of the stipulation of seclusion forced on him due to the barrier of color. His brother’s failure to comprehend Sonny’s doings shows that his reaction to the circumstances forced onto him due to his race was to attempt to conform himself, as much as humanly possible, into the conventional American culture. On one hand Sonny’s drug addiction authenticated his affiliation in the special group; on the other hand, acceptance of the peculiar approaches sealed his commitment to the traditionally accustomed model of surpassing class divisions by arriving into the middle class. Sonny became enveloped in the dream that grew from his piano, quit appearing in class at school, and traveled about with a cluster of performers in Greenwich Village. His music minded associates adopted the role of Sonny's family, taking the place of the brother who had sensed that Sonny's decision of his that particular lifestyle was the equivalent of dying, and for all real-world devotions the brothers were departed from one another during the prolonged parting prior to Sonny's detention on narcotics charges. The views exposing the brothers' intimate past and pinpointing the birthplaces of the narrator's intricate approaches of Sonny all take place in the time frame after Sonny is set free from the state facility. Though he...

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