James Baldwin, author of Sonny’s Blues, was born in Harlem, NY in 1924. During his career as an essayist, he published many novels and short stories. Growing up as an African American, and being “the grandson of a slave” (82) was difficult. On a day to day basis, it was a constant battle with racial discrimination, drugs, and family relationships. One of Baldwin’s literature pieces was Sonny’s Blues in which he describes a specific event that had a great impact on his relationship with his brother, Sonny. Having to deal with the life-style of poverty, his relationship with his brother becomes affected and rivalry develops. Conclusively, brotherly love is the theme of the story. Despite the narrator’s and his brother’s differences, this theme is revealed throughout the characters’ thoughts, feelings, actions, and dialogue. Therefore, the change in the narrator throughout the text is significant in understanding the theme of the story. It is prevalent to withhold the single most important aspect of the narrator’s life: protecting his brother.
In the commencement of the story, the narrator is shocked and in disbelief about the news of his brother’s incarceration, “It was not to be believed” (83). It had been over a year since he had seen his brother, but all he had was memories of him, “This would always be at a moment when I was remembering some specific thing Sonny had once said or done” (83). The narrator’s thoughts about Sonny triggered his anxiety that very day. It was difficult to bear the news of what his brother had become, yet at some point he could relate to Sonny on a personal level, “I hear my brother. And myself” (84). After the news had spurred, the narrator experienced extreme anxiety to the point of sweating. Jus...
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...n his brother’s life the theme in Sonny’s Blues would’ve have been altered. Overall, what was vital to the narrator, in this time of turmoil and frustration, was to nurture the relationship with his brother Sonny, not only because of the love he had for him but also for the obligation he had as a brother and the commitment he had toward his mother.
In conclusion, Sonny’s Blues depicts the love of a brother through the narrator, who at the beginning was disengaged, unsupportive, and emotionally distant. However, the turning point was when Grace died. This triggered a great turmoil of feelings that overflowed the narrator leading him to a major and impacting change. Instead, he turned into being involved, supportive, understanding, honest, and accepting of his brother Sonny; regardless of the reality that there was no guarantee his pain would not consume his life.
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