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Suffering and Struggle in Sonny´s Blues by James Baldwin

analytical Essay
1195 words
1195 words
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THE DEMON BLACK The transition of being a black man in a time just after slavery was a hard one. A black man had to prove himself at the same time had to come to terms with the fact that he would never amount to much in a white dominated country. Some young black men did actually make it but it was a long and bitter road. Most young men fell into the same trappings as the narrator’s brother. Times were hard and most young boys growing up in Harlem were swept off their feet by the onslaught of change. For American blacks in the middle of the twentieth century, racism is another of the dark forces of destruction and meaninglessness which must be endured. Beauty, joy, triumph, security, suffering, and sorrow are all creations of community, especially of family and family-like groups. They are temporary havens from the world''s trouble, and they are also the meanings of human life. I think the main idea the narrators is trying to emphasize is the theme of opposition between the chaotic world and the human need for community with a series of opposing images, especially darkness and light. The narrator repeatedly associates light with the desire to clear or give form to the needs and passions, which arise out of inner darkness. He also opposes light as an idea of order to darkness in the world, the chaos that adults endure, but of which they normally cannot speak to children. The story opens with a crisis in their relationship. The narrator reads in the newspaper that Sonny has been taken up in a drug raid. He learns that Sonny is addicted to heroin “horse,” and that he will be sent to a treatment facility to be "cured." Unable to believe that his once gentle and quiet brother could have so abused himself: " Sonny had been wild, but not crazy, he had always been a good boy and had never turned hard or evil or disrespectful the way the kids did and still do in Harlem."…His face had been bright and open, there was a lot of copper in it; and he had wonderfully direct brown eyes, and a great gentleness and privacy…." (66). The narrator cannot reopen communication with Sonny until a second crisis occurs, the death of his daughter from polio. When Sonny is released, the narrator brings him to live with his family.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the transition of being a black man after slavery was hard. most young black men fell into the same trappings as the narrator’s brother.
  • Analyzes how the narrator emphasizes the theme of opposition between the chaotic world and the human need for community with a series of opposing images, especially darkness and light.
  • Analyzes how the narrator reads in the newspaper that sonny has been taken up in a drug raid, and learns that he is addicted to heroin "horse."
  • Opines that sonny had been wild, but not crazy, he had always been a good boy and had never turned hard or evil or disrespectful the way the kids did and still do in harlem.
  • Analyzes how the narrator cannot reopen communication with sonny until a second crisis occurs, the death of his daughter from polio.
  • Analyzes how the narrator cannot protect sonny from the world any more than his father could protect his own brother.
  • Analyzes how the conversation between the older brother and sonny is punctuated by the lighting. the narrator, feeling that his authority is being questioned and threatened, displays a tone of contempt.
  • Analyzes how the narrator and sonny try to find an alternative way of making meaning and order.
  • Narrates how they walk black, funky, cold streets, and there''s no living ass to talk to, no way to get it out, that storm inside. they have to listen.
  • Analyzes how the narrator understands that sonny's music is an authentic response to life.
  • Analyzes how the narrator feels united with his brother and, by implication, with all mankind in shared sorrows.
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