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The Effects Of Socio Cultural Factors On Individuals

730 words - 3 pages

Martin Luther King Jr. once described racism during the mid-twentieth century as a time, “[W]hen your first name becomes [negro], your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are), […] when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness.” Martin Luther King Jr. went through extensive efforts to end African-Americans’ social burdens, which ultimately resulted in his death; however, discrimination, although more concealed than it was in previous centuries, still occurs. In two short stories set during the mid-twentieth century, “Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin and “The Man Who Was Almost a Man,” by Richard Wright, two African-American characters are faced with separate hardships that are similarly caused by sociocultural factors. Both characters’ problems are arduous to overcome and until they do, they are unable to achieve their ultimate desires.
In James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” the main character, Sonny, has a troublesome life, he not only does heroine but also deals it. One of the main reasons for his drug use is the society in which he was raised. Sonny grew up in Harlem, which is a place the narrator, Sonny’s brother, characterizes as “disast[rous],” (41) “danger[ous],” (42) and “dark” (43). Poverty is also prevalent in Harlem, as readers can see when the narrator describes the housing projects that are “already rundown” (41) after a short period of having been built. Furthermore, Harlem is a place where the kids turn “hard or evil or disrespectful […] so quick,” and limits their potential to be successful, for they only know “the darkness of their lives” (36).
Not only does Sonny’s harsh living environment play a role in his drug use, but also his family structure. While Sonny’s father was alive, Sonny would often fight with him, and after fighting “Sonny just moves back, inside himself, where he can’t be reached” (42). Also, after Sonny’s mother died, it was only Sonny and his brother; however, the two were separated for a long period of time. Having support or being cared for by family members is invaluable, but Sonny did not have this and...

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