Analysis Of Sonny's Blues

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One good thing about music: when it hits, you feel no pain,” says Bob Marley. Music is relevant in James Baldwin’s 1957 short story, “Sonny’s Blues.” It is about an unnamed male narrator struggling with his brother Sonny’s heroin addiction. Baldwin mentions in the story that the narrator and Sonny are “seven years [apart]” (1732). This fact is one of the reasons for the awkward relationship between the narrator and Sonny. Although the author states directly that Sonny has a heroin addiction, he has overcome a lot of pain in his life to get to where he ends up in the latter part of the story. Sonny channels his pain into music by playing the piano—specifically the Blues. Sonny’s conflicts in life are his struggle with drugs, fear of rejection…show more content…
The struggles that Sonny has to deal with are internal as well. He is trying to figure out how to get back to the person he was before the drugs crept into his system and left him feeling on a high. For Sonny, he channels his struggles — dealing with heroin — into the Blues. With music, he cannot mask how he feels, like drugs can do for him. Music speaks to anyone willing to listen. To Sonny, music is not just a beat and drums; it is his life and what he wants to do. Baldwin expresses through Sonny the similarities between music and heroin. An unlikely comparison, he says, “heroin [once in your veins] makes you feel soft and warm at the same time” (1744). For Sonny, music helps him feel like a person instead of an outsider. The struggles of his life seem to come full circle once the music crawls through his veins instead of the…show more content…
He, after all, made a promise to their mother that he would look after Sonny. In this conversation, Sonny lit a cigarette in front of him, nodded and said, “ [that] he wanted to see if he had the courage [to do it]” (1739). The narrator realizes that he cannot hold on to his little brother’s hand all the time; he has to let go and let him fly. The narrator “let go” of Sonny by giving him a “scotch and milk” (1749) and by going to the nightclub to hear Sonny play. He realizes that Sonny is in his element, has friends, and that he can do nothing about this. He let the once little boy become a grown man.
Music speaks to every generation of teenagers, adults, and even kids. It becomes a language that once heard, transforms strangers into friends. Throughout “Sonny’s Blues” the music played by Sonny becomes his escape from the drugs, the day, and even his life. Sonny struggles with drugs, a fear of rejection, and the fact that he is a man. Having people there during a time of solitude is nice but one day, growing up is a part of being an adult. Whether life draws people towards becoming a jazz musician or an algebra teacher, everyone is dealing with the same hell, just different
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