Contrasting Views of Love and Success in Sonny’s Blues and My Mortal Enemy

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Contrasting Views of Love and Success in Sonny’s Blues and My Mortal Enemy

In the stories of “Sonny’s Blues” and “My Mortal Enemy” there were contrasting views of love and success. The main characters in these stories have their own views of what both mean to them. In “Sonny’s Blues,” there is a conflict of what defines success to Sonny and his brother and this conflict is also wrapped around the love they have for each other even though it seems as if they hate each other most of the time they actually have loved one another all along but have been torn apart by conflicts what defines of success. Each has found it a bit challenging to accept the other’s way of living and views. In “My Mortal Enemy,” this story is also about love and success. In this story, Myra loves Oswald very much in the beginning of the story, but as the story goes on it is obvious that she loves money and success much more. I will contrast the two stories as point out the differences of the story’s main character’s stance on love and success.

Our society does tend to label or categorize people based on race, class, religion, and success to name a few. In regards to Sonny’s Blues, the label seems to focus on success and brotherly love. It is true that Sonny’s brother has worked hard to escape the ghetto, earn a college degree, and settle into a middle-class existence; Society sees him as successful and admirable. On the other hand, society looks at Sonny and sees a loser as does his own brother. To answer the questions---can we only learn from those who are successful or those who are losers?

I would have to say that we can learn from both. We usually refer to someone as a loser when they do not follow the societal norm. Since Sonny’s brother, in society’s eyes, did everything that everyone else did or was doing, he was considered successful and admirable, whereas his brother was involved with one of the sub-cultures of the time. At that time, society viewed this group of people as “losers” as they were not following the norm, and they were caught up in the drug culture as well. I think that to say we can only learn from successful people verses “losers” is false. I believe people can learn from everyone just as Sonny’s brother said, “Sonny’s music was very beautiful because it wasn’t hurried and it was no longer a lament (484). He seemed to hear with what a burning Sonny had made the music his, with what burning they had yet to make theirs, and how they could cease lamenting. Freedom lurked around them and he understood, at last, that Sonny could help them be free if they would just listen.”

However for most of the story, Sonny’s brother kept pushing what success is on his brother which at times pushed Sonny further and further away. His brother, the teacher, did not really feel too successful in the meaning of the word. In the text, it says that after the last bell rang he let out his breath. (454) He said it had seemed he was holding it for quite a while, and he was sweating a lot as if he had been sitting in a steam bath. He also was listening to the students shouting, cursing, and laughing, yet it was not the sound of joyous laughter that one would associate with children. He believed it was mocking and insular and the intent was to denigrate. As he was looking out the window at the students and other teachers in the courtyard, he noticed that the teachers seemed as if they could not wait to get out if the courtyard. He was then reminded of his brother Sonny, and in the other students he heard his brother. (455) I feel that he felt that he had failed his brother and now he is failing his students which in some way maybe substitutes for his brother and the relationship they once had. He may also feel that since he failed his brother in life, keeping him out of trouble and such, he is now trying to save or protect his current students. However from the feeling of the text, I think he...
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