Sonny's Blues

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Sonny's Blues

A captivating tale of a relationship between two troubling brothers in Harlem, "Sonny's Blues" is told from the perception of Sonny's brother, whose name is never mentioned. Baldwin's choice of Sonny's brother as a narrator is what makes "Sonny's Blues" significant in terms of illustrating the relationship and emotional complications of Sonny and his brother. The significance of "Sonny's Blues" lies in the way Sonny's brother describes their relationship based on what he observes, hears, and feels, and how he struggles trying to understand Sonny through the course of the story. This is a story of how two African Americans brothers take their own path through life as they struggle to find meaning in their lives. Sonny's brother point of view is shared in this story as he feels responsible to keep his brother safe. The brother learns to listen throughout this story to better understand Sonny's life. This story is primarily about Sonny's brothers' life, how he struggled in his life and how he is now watching his younger brother Sonny go through the same situation. He worries about Sonny's life; that Sonny might not be able to escape the turmoil that life brings especially being a musician with no ties to family and job security. Sonny's brother sees Sonny trying to become a jazz musician, he watches and listens as Sonny goes through many difficulties in life. He doesn't want Sonny to be a jazz musician, because there is no future in this. At the end of the story, Sonny's brother attends the nightclub to watch and listen to his brother perform. During this visit, he learns and listens to understand how Sonny uses his music to survive; the music gives meaning to his life. The author used the title of the story Sonny's Blues, to give the readers the hint about the theme of the story. The noun "blues" is defined as a mood of unhappiness and depression. This theme is present throughout the story. "Blues" is a style of music that expresses a sad mood. It is synonymous with low spirits and depressed emotions. The "blues," both as a state of being and as music, is basic to the structure of the story, and both the narrator and his brother Sonny have had their share of low spirits. The opposing lives of the two brothers contribute to the theme of being safe and while being risk takers. In this story, Baldwin writes about two brothers who grew up together. As each of the boys grew older, they fell apart from one another and lived two completely different lives. The narrator, who is the older brother, seemed to be more conservative and more determined to develop a good future. Sonny, the younger brother, was more free-willed and adventurous as he lived in the moment. Sonny did not even know what his plans were for the next hour, much less for the rest of his life. The narrator's major source of discontent has been his selfish desire to learn and lead a respectable, safe life as a high-school algebra teacher. When he learns of Sonny's troubles with drugs and the law, he feels threatened. Sonny's brother lives in a safe environment, he fears that Sonny is living a dangerous lifestyle. Baldwin carefully establishes the brothers as opposites. The narrator is a cautious, respectable family man. He teaches math and is proud of his professional standing. In the story, Sonny comes only through the narrator's interpretation, who has acted largely as Sonny's guardian, a father figure, rather than a brother-peer. The narrator describes Sonny as "wild, but not crazy. He says Sonny had always been a good boy, he hadn't ever turned hard or evil or disrespectful, and the way kids can, so quick" (Baldwin 85). He compares Sonny to his students: dreamy, disenchanted, and obedient, but struggling against the hopelessness their impoverished lives promise. Living in a Harlem housing project, Sonny's brother consciously protects himself from the dangers that surround him. You'll notice that the narrator and Sonny have grown...
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