Sonnys Blues Themes

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  • Topic: Public housing, Light, Affordable housing
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  • Published : April 8, 2013
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Gracie Ferraco
English 114- section 03
Schwartz
March 14, 2013

Prompt # 2, Essay # 3
In Sonny’s Blues the theme, symbols, characters, and motifs all combine together to create a literary masterpiece that describes the importance of unity amongst family and the turbulent life of African-Americans living in Harlem, New York in the 1950’s. This story is written in a chronological thought process of experiences the narrator has seen while growing up and the memories of his family, mostly of his brother Sonny. The story is about Sonny’s journey, told and seen through the eyes of the narrator. The narrator, who remains unnamed, is a black man teaching algebra in Harlem and Sonny, his younger brother, is a blues pianist struggling with heroin addiction and facing the negative pressures of Harlem. Although the brothers are both very different, symbols in the novel bring the two together. These symbols are: math teacher, light and dark, the housing projects, and the cup. These different symbols all can support the theme of the short story, which is the importance of family and brotherly love. The narrator, being a math teacher, is a symbol for searching for an answer. Math is the type of subject where there is always one correct answer for a problem; this is the type of demeanor that the narrator has. After reading a newspaper article about how his brother was arrested for drug use and loitering, he searches and wonders what is going to happen next with Sonny. The narrator asks about what would happen to his brother several times, “What’s going to happen to him now?” (Baldwin. 602) This ties into the theme of brotherly love because the narrator is expressing concern for his nomadic brother and hopes for an answer to be available. Light and darkness are strong symbols that carry tension between each other in Sonny’s Blues. The author’s choice of contrast of light and dark to most noticed with Sonny’s character and is highlighted...
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