Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin

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While reading “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin theme, symbolism, and motifs were discovered throughout the entire short story. Sonny one of the two main characters, is dealing with a drug addiction and is now following his dreams of becoming a jazz musician. The narrator, whose name was never given, does his best to keep the promise he made his mother years ago, to be his brother’s keeper.

James Baldwin, an African American author, grew up in Harlem, New York. Baldwin had no one to share his love for literature with. Baldwin’s father was opposed of him following the literature career path James Baldwin however, did receive support from the mayor and his English teacher. Baldwin abandoned his parents home at the age of 17, to settle into Green Village, New York. Green village was a city famous for its artistic environment and free thinkers, here is where his career began. James Baldwin’s stories often took place during the civil war, as did one of his most famous stories, Sonny’s Blues.

Towards the beginning of the story of SONNYS BLUES the narrator has a feeling of ice in his stomach. The narrator felt this feeling as he read the news paper that informed him that his brother was in jail for possession of drugs. The feeling of ice symbolizes fear and discomfort for the narrator. “A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long. . .. It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less.” ("Ice." Shmoop. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.)The narrator felt in a sense responsible and guilty of the life his little brother is now living and if he were there to guide him that maybe then things could be different.

Jazz music sy...

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...aldwin shows that the light at least in his perspective represented more of the good. Baldwin described Sonny’s face as “extremely bright” ( "Motif of Light and Dark in "Sonny's Blues"" Yahoo Contributor Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.) or light to show that sonny did look and feel innocent as he grew up as an adolescent.

James Baldwin did a great job of including many themes, symbols, and motifs throughout the story. The themes symbols and motifs are what keeps you interested as a reader and makes you think even further because there is always a little more to what James Baldwin has said. There are many hidden messages throughout the story which requires you to be paying attention the entire time.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” The Jazz Fiction Anthology. Ed. Sascha Feinstein and David Rife. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009. 17-48.
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