The story “Sonny’s Blues “is about two brothers that deal with racism. In dealing with their issues they both suffer and survive in their family and community. Their stories are a strong impact on their character and how they deal with their pain. Sonny chooses a more damaging means of racism, such as drug addiction to heroin; although, he does find a better choice music! The older brother, the narrator, James Baldwin, goes to college to become a teacher, and give back to his community in Harlem.
Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin A captivating tale of a relationship between two troubling brothers in Harlem, "Sonny's Blues" is told from the perception of Sonny's brother, whose name is never mentioned. Baldwin's choice of Sonny's brother as a narrator is what makes "Sonny's Blues" significant in terms of illustrating the relationship and emotional complications of Sonny and his brother. The significance of "Sonny's Blues" lies in the way Sonny's brother describes their relationship based on what he observes, hears, and feels, and how he struggles trying to understand Sonny through the course of the story. This is a story of how two African Americans brothers take their own path through life as they struggle to find meaning in their lives. Sonny's brother point of view is shared in this story as he feels responsible to keep his brother safe.
Sonny’s Blues, by James Baldwin, is a story about enlightenment through brotherhood when Sonny and his brother go to the club. Sonny’s brother saw the newspaper while he was on his way to work and realized that his little brother was in trouble because of drugs. The beginning of the enlightenment started when Sonny’s brother ran into the man who got Sonny started on heroin, or how they call it “horse.” “A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long, while I taught my classes algebra. It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting.
The younger man is Sonny, a jazz pianist who, when the story opens, has just been arrested for peddling and using heroin. In Sonny's Blues, chronological time is upset yet the author, Baldwin, allows everything to come together in the end. In "Sonny's Blues" the tragedy and suffering can be transformed into an art such as blues music. This can be viewed as a catalyst for change, as the narrator begins to understand not only the music, but also himself and his relationship with Sonny. The narrator learns his brother Sonny has been arrested from reading the newspaper and this disturbing discovery initiates the two brothers growing closeness.
The narrator has assimilated into society as much as possible, but still understands his limits as a black man. Contrarily, Sonny has never tried to conform and travels a troubled path trying find an outlet for the deep pain and suffering that his status as a permanent outcast forces upon him. Sonny channels his suffering into music and he and his brother are finally able to connect through something in which they never thought existed: the light that Sonny's dark world birthed. Works Cited Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” The Jazz Fiction Anthology.
Although Sonny, the younger brother, chooses a different life path in heroin usage, and in being a musician, his older brother, the narrator, becomes an algebra teacher. Despite not being in each other’s lives for a period of time, the knitted fraternal relationship that they share proves to be eternal regardless of their loss of contact. Ultimately, this story is an amazing illustration of how two people are from the same blood and home, are never quite the same, yet the love of a family will always be kindled. In the following articles "Sonny's Blues": A Message in Music, by Suzy Bernstein Goldman, explains how people often explain their emotions through music. In another article titled, -“ Black Literature Revisited: "’Sonny's Blues’" by Elaine R. Ognibene, she elaborates on the effects music has to bring two people together.
In the lyrical and heartrending short story Sonny’s Blues, James Baldwin tells the tale of two brothers, both having taken a different path to survive, and how these paths have estranged them. One brother, the narrator and a button-down algebra teacher, lives a straight-forward life with a wife and two kids. The other brother, Sonny, is a heroin hooked, jazz crazed, musician who views life in a much different light. During the course of their difficult relationship the narrator, through remembrance of previous death experiences in his life, acceptance of Sonny’s choices , and hearing Sonny express his sorrows and suffering through his music is able to open his heart to the previously unaccepted Sonny and rekindle their fraternal bond. After years of non communication between brothers, a single event happens that puts them back in touch.
Life comes with many struggles and gives strength to those who face them. James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” is about the struggles and hardships that every day people face. This story is about an aspiring musician, Sonny, Baldwin’s main character, whose life is portrayed through the eyes of his older brother. Because of Sonny’s lifestyle, his brother has lost touch with him for many years, but after a terrible tragedy the narrator reaches out to Sonny and tries to mend their relationship. Sonny is a recovering drug addict and as the story goes on, it seems as if Sonny has changed, but in reality he did not change, his brother just comes to realization that he cannot change him, but only accept and respect the man that he is and the man that he’s striving to be.
Sonny was a withdrawn and a quiet type while their father feigned to be big, loud-talking and tough. The narrator recalls the last time he saw their mother alive was before he left for war. He remembered his mother telling him to take care of his brother. The story talks of Sonny’s life in Harlem and how he tried to escape the stereotype of the community’s traditional social view. He tries to venture into jazz music which the narrator does not find suitable for him.