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The Representation of Race in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin and The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

Satisfactory Essays
The Representation of Race in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin and The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

The journey undergone by the narrator (and elder brother) in Sonny’s blues may be short in literary terms but is said to be one of the tenderest and thought provoking pieces in modern fiction.

Indirect comparisons between life and music are rich within many of the paragraphs and pages and remain quietly present throughout the duration of the story even when less patent.

Jazz as a genre is undeniably unpredictable and often misunderstood.

The jazz listened to, played and loved by Sonny is used as a colorful metaphor right through the story.

The examples are endless. One crucial one was the almost unbearable frustration the narrator experienced while looking outside in to Sonny’s life.

He saw a chaotic, capricious mess when he looked at the life his younger brother lived; much like the erratic and confusing disarray he heard when he heard Jazz.

Although Sonny was aware of the detrimental direction his life was going in, he chose to continue to make music wit beats and rhythms not understood by his brother.

Narrator compared every angle and direction of Sonny’s choices with one another; the drugs, the music, the lack of reality in his preferences- he related each with the other and initially distanced himself from his sibling who he still loved dearly, mainly because he didn’t understand why a well adjusted young man would choose to live a life to indicate that he was a character of the contrary.

As the story grows and unravels, we witness a clear shift in emotional generosity and acceptance in Narrator; he watches and listens to his brother, learning that his story isn’t as uncompressible as he once thought.

It may always be slightly confusing to him but he learned to see depth and courage in Sonny and this is mirrored in/on the final page when almost an identical journey is taken in the few minutes that Narrator experiences his blood playing his music, his life, ‘He didn’t notice it, but just before they started playing again, he sipped from it and looked towards me. Then he put it back on top of the piano. For me, then, as they began to play again, it glowed and shook above my brother’s head like the very cup of trembling’. (Sonny’s blues.141). John M. Reilly writes, ‘this first is the theme of the individualistic narrator’s gradual discovery of the significance of his brother’s life.
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