Review: James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues

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In James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” the unsaid brotherly relationship amongst the speaker and his younger brother Sonny is illustrated throughout the narrator’s point of view. The two brothers have not spoken in time until the narrator receives a note from Sonny following his daughter’s death. He takes this moment as a vital indication from Sonny and feels the need to act in response. Despite the fact that both Sonny and the narrator reside in separate worlds, all Sonny desires is a brother to care for him while the narrator finds himself in the past, ultimately learning his responsibility as an older brother. The speaker and Sonny at last get a chance to have a word with each other following many years, they begin to gradually open up to each other the dismal reality that they faced. ’But there’s no way not to suffer--is there Sonny?’ ‘I believe not,’ he said and smiled, ‘but that’s never stopped anyone from trying.’ He looked at me. ‘Has it?’ I realized, with this mocking look, that there stood between us, forever, beyond the power of time of forgiveness, the fact that I had held silence…. so long! -- When he had needed human speech to help him. (848) The narrator realizes that it was his responsibility to be at hand for his younger brother for all the years that Sonny looked for him, even if it was just to talk or listen. He doesn’t know if Sonny will be capable of forgiving him, or if too much time has passed to be any forgiveness. Even though the narrator is there for his brother now, he could have been an authority figure to him for his entire life, just as any brother should be. The two characters come to the appreciation that they do share a brotherly acquaintance, and that the narrator cares immensely for his brother, even after all the time of detachment. The narrator says, “I don’t give a damn what other people do, I don’t even care how they suffer. I just care how you suffer.’ And he looked at me, ‘Please believe me,’ I said, ‘I don’t want to see...
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