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Analysis of Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin

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Analysis of Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin

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Mollie Colon
Comp 111 B04
Mrs. Canella
In Class Essay 1
“Sonny’s Blues” by author James Baldwin tells the tale of two brothers; one good and one evil. The narrator paints the two brothers as “light” and “dark”. The author James Baldwin writes about his relationship with his brother Sonny whom was the “dark” brother. In essence, this story is about the struggle of two black brothers growing up in Harlem. This essay incorporates the struggles that Black men and women go through on a daily basis. Though both brothers were from the ghetto, the narrator seems to have assimilated into the larger society/culture; he was a school teacher doing generally well in what we call life. Sonny on the other hand turned to drugs (heroin) to escape from the pain and suffering he endured growing up a black man in the 1950’s. “Sonny’s Blues” also tells the reader about how art and music was a huge part of Black people’s lives in Harlem. Many looked towards music for an escape; Sonny turned towards Jazz to release his pain and anguish. This story does have a Biblical theme behind it. Like the story of light and darkness in the Bible, Baldwin uses these phrases to reference the life or the characters.

One critic agrees with this Biblical interpretation; author James Tackach actually wrote a criticism called “the biblical foundation of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”’. Tackach’s interpretation was based on Baldwin’s real life. He expressed that Baldwin was born in the Church and therefore knew the Bible intimately. Tackach fells as though Baldwin uses his vast knowledge of Biblical stories to help tell the tale of Sonny and his brother. In Tackachs critical analysis of “Sonny’s Blues”, he writes that no other critical analysis has identified the two main biblical texts that form the foundation of Baldwin’s story; the Cain and Abel story and the story of the Prodigal Son.

In accordance with Tackachs criticism, I believe that that story did have a Biblical undertone like the two...