English 1B – Professor Meehan
Reading James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” one can see the unspoken brotherly bond between the narrator and his younger brother Sonny is illustrated through the narrator’s point of view. The two brothers have not spoken in years until the narrator receives a letter from Sonny after his daughter dies. He takes this moment as an important sign from Sonny and feels the need to respond. While both Sonny and the narrator live in separate worlds, all Sonny needs is a brother to care for him while the narrator finds himself in the past eventually learning his role as an older brother. When the narrator and Sonny finally get a chance to speak to each other after many years, they begin to slowly open up to each other the grim reality that they face. I said: ‘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. (52). The narrator realizes that it was his responsibility to be there for his younger brother for all the years that Sonny needed him, even if it was just to talk or listen. He doesn’t know if Sonny will be able to forgive him, or if too much time has passed to be any forgiveness. Although the narrator is there for his brother now, he could have been an influence to him for his entire life, just as any brother should be. The two characters come to the realization that they do share a brotherly bond, and that the narrator cares deeply for his brother even after all the time apart. The narrator ultimately tries to make up for all the time apart that he has spent away from Sonny during his time of need,
and through deep bonding throughout the story he tries to...
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