Themes in Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay

Themes in Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay

Length: 1013 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Themes in Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin


After reading the short story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin, I find there are two major themes that Baldwin is trying to convey, suffering and irony. The first theme that he brings out and tries to get the reader to understand is the theme of suffering. The second theme that the author illustrates is the theme of irony.

James Baldwin writes about two African-American brothers growing up in Harlem, a black ghetto in New York, during the 1950's. During this time black people were forced to live in a world of prejudice, discrimination, poverty and suppression. The life of a black person was very difficult; many opportunities afforded to whites were not afforded to blacks. Sonny and his brother lived in the projects and had many obstacles to overcome that white people didn't have to. Sonny chose music to outwardly express his suffering, his brother chose to bottle it up and keep it inside, but this is the common thread they both shared. Suffering is also shown in the story when Baldwin says "it came to me that what we both were seeking through our separate cab windows was that part of ourselves which had been left behind" (P 47). I think this quote means that both Sonny and his older brother want to retrieve some of their past so that it can help them cope with what has happened in their lives. If Sonny and his brother can both cope with what has happened in their lives and get over it, I think t they both can start moving forward and putting this behind them.

I feel having Sonny's brother narrate the story in the first person is Baldwin's way of telling us that Sonny's brother is also suffering but inside, unlike Sonny who takes drugs and sings the blues. Sonny's ...


... middle of paper ...


...s and work together to form a loving relationship.

In conclusion, the short story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin brings out two main themes: irony and suffering. You can actually feel the pain that Baldwin's characters experience; and distinguish the two different lifestyles of siblings brought up in the same environment. The older brother remaining nameless is a fabulous touch that really made me want to read on. This really piqued my interest and I feel it can lead to many discussions on why this technique was used. I really enjoyed this story; it was a fast and enjoyable reading. Baldwin keeps his readers thinking and talking long after they have finished reading his stories. His writing technique is an art, which very few, if any, can duplicate.

Works Cited:

Baldwin, James. "Sonny's Blues" in Vintage Baldwin. New York: Vintage, 2004.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Biblical Themes Of James Baldwin 's ' Sonny 's Blues ' Essay

- In Sonny’s Blues, James Baldwin makes biblical themes a crucial part in this short story by comparing biblical themes to scenes from the story. There were many ways that biblical themes were present in Sonny’s Blues as James Baldwin made references from the bible such as the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, the story of “The Probable Son” and the book of Isaiah, which talks about the Cup of Trembling. His comparisons are supported by James Tackach’s The Biblical Foundation of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”....   [tags: Cain and Abel, Book of Genesis]

Strong Essays
1253 words (3.6 pages)

Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay

- Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin "Sonny's Blues" is a story about two brothers, their past, and how their differences came between them. They were apart for several years while Sonny was in jail, but once he got out they had a chance to mend their pasts. "Sonny's Blues" is a well written story that teaches a lesson that has value in every day life. The tone is melancholy and reminiscent. The brother is remembering the past and reflection on the mistakes he and Sonny made. He is sad over their fallout, Sonny's trouble with drugs, and the death of his daughter....   [tags: Sonny's Blues James Baldwin]

Strong Essays
501 words (1.4 pages)

James Baldwin 's Sonny 's Blues Essay

- On page ...of the class’s anthology there is a work by James Baldwin entitled Sonny’s Blues. What interests me about this work is the quote, “For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.” In this connection, the question that I want to research is why would a man like James Baldwin represent a character like Sonny in Sonny’s Blues....   [tags: Fiction, Literature, Suffering, American films]

Strong Essays
879 words (2.5 pages)

The 's Blues By James Baldwin Essay

- In the 1950s, the concept of drug abuse and addiction was quite known when it came to heroin addiction on the streets of urban neighborhoods. Heroin became predominately used in urban ghetto areas especially, after World War II when it was widely distributed. Following its massive distribution came sparks of different varieties of music hitting the mainstream crowd. Now writer James Baldwin really had the ability to transform his own personal and social concerns into great works of literature. One of his earliest popular short stories was “Sonny’s Blues” where he takes on drug addiction, Harlem, and post-World War II American society....   [tags: Drug addiction, Addiction, Jazz, Drug abuse]

Strong Essays
1135 words (3.2 pages)

Themes of Family Happiness Discussed in Daddy, Sonny's Blues and On Going Home

- Family plays a key role in all societies and cultures, and happiness is the direct result of the love within a family. The text discussed in the family theme has portrayed examples of both happy and very unhappy families. Three pieces of literature that discuss themes pertaining to the happiness and well-being of a family are Daddy, Sonny’s Blues, and On Going Home. While some of the themes raised in these works such as forgiveness and unconditional love are vital in order for families to be happy, themes involving change and loss are most certainly not necessary in contributing to a family’s happiness....   [tags: Daddy, Sonny's Blues, On Going Home]

Strong Essays
977 words (2.8 pages)

Biblical and Religious Themes in "Sonny's Blues" Essay

- James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues,” is the authors most studied and critically analyzed piece of literature. The majority of these analyses focus on the obvious themes of the book such as jazz music, the unnamed narrator, or the rift that divides Sonny and his brother. Little critique has ever gone into the biblical and religious themes that run throughout the story of “Sonny’s Blues.” Furthermore, it is even more astonishing that there is little critique given Baldwin has such a strong history with the world of Christianity....   [tags: Literary Review]

Strong Essays
1266 words (3.6 pages)

The Use of Stylistic Devices in James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues and Raymond Carver’s Cathedral

- James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny’s Blues’ and Raymond Carver’s ‘Cathedral’ are two stories which bring out several similarities concerning thematic issues and use of various stylistic devices. Studying the two stories closely enhances the reader to gain essential understanding on the issues being raised such as internal and external conflicts affecting the characters. Although the plots of the two stories are different, their development in terms of characterization, style and themes is more or less the same as there are noticeable similarities....   [tags: narrator, flashbacks, misconceptions ]

Strong Essays
947 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on James Baldwin 's Not For Meet The Man

- From the late 30s to the 60s, America was slowly forging a name for itself by becoming the most powerful country in the world. From the outside, one could have said that things were going well for the Americans. However, if we dug a little deeper, we could see that things weren’t so good. As a matter of fact, the inequalities among fellow American citizen, the rate of violence in the country, the fear that each ethnical race had for each other and many more problems could prove that. Many authors, such as James Baldwin, would write about such inequalities....   [tags: White people, Black people, Race, Love]

Strong Essays
1315 words (3.8 pages)

Sonny's Blues Essay

- The story “Sonny’s Blues” By James Baldwin is about a jazz musician and his brother in 1950’s Harlem. The story centers on Sonny who uses jazz music as an escape from his depression. James Baldwin captures the art of jazz during this time period. The themes in this short story are perhaps varied, but all of them revolve around some form of suffering. One theme shows how music can promote change and understanding within relationships. A second theme reveals suffering caused by guilt. Yet another theme references the results of suffering brought about by searching for ones’ identity and how that leads to misunderstanding....   [tags: Jazz Music]

Strong Essays
1744 words (5 pages)

Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Essay example

- 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....   [tags: Sonny's Blues James Baldwin]

Strong Essays
1217 words (3.5 pages)