Family vs. Family

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Between the two short stories, “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, they reveal similarities and differences. Both stories are similar in the importance of family ties and the way they view family, but differ in sibling relations. In “Sonny’s Blues”, the siblings want to recreate their brotherly bond again, but in “Everyday Use” there is no sign of healing the hole between Dee, Maggie, and Mama.

First, we will look at the importance of family ties between both stories. In “Everyday Use” the characters have strong connections with family ties and their heritage. “Not ‘Dee,’Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!” (280). Dee changing her name to Wangero tells the reader that Dee believes by changing her name to a more “African” name is confirming her African heritage. Having this new name, Wangero “kills” Dee, so theoretically by changing her name she is killing off her own family heritage. Similarly, in “Sonny’s Blues” the two brothers have importance in family ties too. When the narrator’s mother says, "You got to hold on to your brother," she said, "and don't let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you gets with him. You going to be evil with him many a time. But don't you forget what I told you, you hear?" (264-265). The mother makes the narrator (brother) promise her to take care of Sonny no matter what. This shows us the unconditional love of the family, or family in general. All the mother wants is for Sonny to be taken care of and looked after when she can no longer look after him anymore. Also, from the article To the Deep Water James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" by McParland, Robert P., he says “Sonny has reached a point of breakthrough and he is giving his life back in music. Here Baldwin provides a beautifully lyrical passage suggesting generation and memory, as Sonny plays. Sonny's music restores to the narrator memory, community, and family.” This here is another reference towards family...
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