An Analysis of " Sonny's Blues"

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M. Jones
Professor K. Levinson
English Comp. 201
22 October 2012
An Analysis of “Sonny’s Blues” According to the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, imagery is defined as the use of pictures or words to create images, especially to create an impression or a mood (dictionary.cambridge.org). In literary works of art, it is customary for authors to employ the use of imagery as a means of adding depth to their writing. It has a way of encompassing the senses as opposed to simply permitting the reader to construct a mental image. James Baldwin utilizes this convention in “Sonny’s Blues” to relay an accurate account of the period that he lived in. In his essay “Autobiographical Notes” Baldwin states, “One writes out of only one thing - one’s own experience”. The darkness that befalls the streets of Harlem in “Sonny’s Blues” was the first-hand portrayal of what life was like in Baldwin’s hometown (238; 243; 244; 245; 255). Poverty and drug infestation was rampant in the streets and often became a trap for many of the residents. “Those who got out (of Harlem) always left something of themselves behind, as some animals amputate a leg and leave it in the trap” (243) was a line in which Baldwin used imagery to illustrate the perils of the streets that he grew up on. Simile and metaphor are frequent modes that Baldwin exercised to present imagery. “For a moment nobody’s talking, but every face looks darkening, like the sky outside” (Baldwin 244) is an example of simile in which the word “like” is used to compare two different ideas, drawing the reader into the story through a mental picture. The author also applied the use of simile to liken a boy whistling a tune to a songbird (239). In the second paragraph of “Sonny Blue’s”, Baldwin uses metaphor to reflect the pain that the narrator feels...
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