The Light and Darkness of Suffering Depicted in Sonny's Blues

analytical Essay
2447 words
2447 words

All of humanity suffers at one point or another during the course of their lives. It is in this suffering, this inevitable pain, that one truly experiences life. While suffering unites humankind, it is how we choose to cope with this pain that defines us as individuals. The question becomes do we let suffering consume us, or do we let it define our lives? Through James Baldwin’s story, “Sonny’s Blues”, the manner by which one confronts the light and darkness of suffering determines whether one is consumed by it, or embraces it in order to “survive.” Viewing a collection of these motifs, James Baldwin’s unique perspective on suffering as a crucial component of human development becomes apparent. It is through his compassionate portrayal of life’s inescapable hardships that one finds the ability to connect with humankind’s general pool of hardship. James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” makes use of the motifs of darkness and light to illuminate the universal human condition of suffering and its coping mechanisms. Baldwin’s story presents the heart breaking portrayal of two brothers who have become disconnected through respective life choices. The narrator is the older brother who has grown past the depravity of his childhood poverty. The narrator’s profession as an algebra teacher reflects his need for a “black” and “white,” orderly outlook on life. The narrator believes he has escaped life’s sufferings until the death of his daughter and the troubling news about his brother being taken in for drug possession broadside him to the reality of life’s inevitable suffering. In contrast, his brother, Sonny has been unable to escape his childhood hardships and has ended up on the wrong side of the law. While their lives have taken ... ... middle of paper ... ...ks Cited American Masters: James Baldwin, About the Author. 29 November 2006. April 2012 . Baldwin, James. "Sonny's Blues." Miller, Quentin and Julie Nash. Connections: Literature for Composition. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. 984-1006. Reuben, Paul P. PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Chapter 10: James Baldwin (1924-1987). 3 November 2011. April 2012 . Werner, Craig, Thomas J. Taylor and Robert McClenaghan. Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition: James Baldwin. April 2003. .

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how james baldwin's "sonny’s blues" illuminates the universal human condition of suffering and its coping mechanisms.
  • Analyzes how baldwin's story portrays the heartbreaking portrayal of two brothers who have become disconnected through respective life choices.
  • Analyzes how the interplay of dark and light motifs underlies the narrator's most recent hardship.
  • Analyzes how the narrator finds himself confronted with different forms of suffering that encompass both light and dark mechanisms of survival.
  • Analyzes how the narrator's past experiences reflect the symbolic representation of suffering through motifs of darkness and light.
  • Analyzes how baldwin's use of themes symbolizes the battle of the individual to retain the sanctuary of familiarity over exposure to the unknown.
  • Analyzes how baldwin uses symbols of darkness and light to accentuate the contrast between a feeling of safety and one of suffering.
  • Analyzes how baldwin's use of the symbols of darkness and light connects all races in one chain of mutual suffering.
  • Analyzes how james baldwin uses the themes of black and white, darkness and light in many of his stories. baldwin grew up in poverty in harlem and his step father was a major influence in his works.
  • Concludes that baldwin uses the themes of darkness and light in "sonny's blues" to underscore the universal condition of human suffering and contrast the methods in which people choose to cope with unsuspected tragedy.
  • Describes baldwin, james, miller, quentin, and julie nash's connections: literature for composition.
  • Describes reuben, paul p. pal: perspectives in american literature- a research and reference guide.
  • Describes werner, craig, thomas j. taylor, and robert mcclenaghan's critical survey of drama.
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