James Baldwin Main Themes In Sonny's Blues

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James Baldwin’s main theme used in nearly all of his literary works relates to identity, race relations in the United States, human suffering and the function of art (Reilly, J. 1970). These elements are illustrated throughout his short story “Sonny’s Blues” with his vivid imagery and metaphoric relation to darkness, anxiety and anger. He wrote about things that were important to him at the time, like racism and struggles of inequality. One of his most powerful statements was cited in James Baldwin, America and Beyond (Kaplan, C & Schwarz, B. 2011) in which he stated “ Black people hold the trump. When you try to slaughter people, you create a people with nothing to lose” (p. 67). This was profound statement, especially in that particular era in which there was a racial division amongst everyone. Sonny’s Blues describes the…show more content…
He chose to distance himself from his brother and was able to escape the dark streets of Harlem, going onto college and becoming an educator. He had in a way taken on a different identity and was no longer familiar with the true struggles that Sonny and the other African Americans in Harlem faced; nor the culture that he once was raised. Baldwin used a variety of metaphors in this particular piece, but the one that stands out the most is his use of Blues music and its combination of personal and social signifigance in lyric encounter with history. Blues music is widely recognized by the African American community and culture; a part of their identity and expression. The fact that the narrator was unfamiliar with it and how Sonny was able to express himself through his music shows the reader that he had lost his connection with his roots, so to speak which caused the drift in the brothers

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