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

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

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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. This gives the reader a good platform to examine deeper on the conscious aspects incorporated in the two thereby creating cohesion, coherence and understanding the stories more easily. The two stories through the narrator’s points of view have exposed the internal conflicts in the characters and their various misconceptions towards other characters as individuals and the general worlds they live in.
To begin with, the two stories are told in the narrators’ points of view whose names coincidentally are kept anonymous to the reader throughout the stories. This is an aspect that creates the narrator as a character who is struggling not only to find their identity and understand themselves, but also exposes the difficulties they face when trying to understand and relate with other characters. For instance, in the story ‘Cathedral’ one is able to see how the narrator has various misconceptions towards his wife and Robert. “In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs.” From this statement you can see that the narrator had various misconceptions towards Robert based on stereotypes he had acquired from watching movies. In the story ‘Sonny’s blues’...


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...and ‘Sonny’s Blues’ are two stories which have similarly addressed the issues of internal and interpersonal conflicts that most people experience in their day to day lives by using the two different narrator’s misconceptions about other characters. Through these narrators involving themselves in their rival’s worlds directly at the end, they come to understand the reality of the situation, rather than continue living under their worlds which have imprisoned them psychologically. Although the two stories have two different plots, the narrators experience relatively similar personal and interpersonal struggles. At the end, the two stories have a similar message in that unless one comes out of their own world and put themselves in other people’s worlds, they will always remain prisoners and would find it hard to understand and relate with those closely related to them.

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