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Sonny’s Blues

Sonny was a young man who suffered the effects of drug and substance abuse from an early age.

We are told that , ”He had been picked up, the evening before, in a raid on an apartment downtown, for peddling and using heroin” (3) He grew up in Harlem and was often arrested for selling and using heroine. In the story of Sonny’s blues by Baldwin, the narrator describes, “Sonny as a caged animal that is trying to break free from the effects that prison has had on him and from drug addiction that led to his incarceration”. Sonny is described as being, “haunted by the burden of being poor, black and tapped within the confines of his community”. Sonny was an African American. I will examine the themes of respect, trust and communication from the story. Clark (2002)

The story begins with the unnamed narrator in a state of internal monologue. The narrator describes to us Sonny’s story as he tries to remember him growing up. We encounter communication at this stage when at the end of school day the narrator meets one of Sonny’s old friends and, “ together they start talking about Sonny”. The narrator loth’s Sonny’s friend and we are told that he “simultaneously hates and pities Sonny’s friend”. Sonny’s frind say, : I'm surprised at Sonny, though . . . I thought Sonny was a smart boy, I thought he was too smart to get hung.” (21) this is ironical given that he is a drug addict himself and no wonder the narrator loths him. The narrator understood clearly the effects of drug abuse as even being more gratifying than books. We see this is, “Yet it had happened and here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys who might, every one of them for all I knew, be popping off needles every time they went to the head.  Maybe it did more for them than algebra could”. (4) We see the absence of communication between Sonny and the narrator (hid older brother). We are told that as time passes, the narrator never writes to Sonny in prison until his daughter, Grace dies. Sonny is, however, able to revive communication between him and his brother when he writes a long letter to the narrator trying to explain to him how he ended up where he is. From thence the two brothers stay inconstant communication and this creates a new bond between them. In fact, the narrator is there for his brother when he leaves prison. We are told that he even takes Sonny back to his own family apartment. This bond also shows that the two brothers trust each other. The narrator’s determination to see Sonny as a reformed person shows that he trusts him after he revived the communication between them. The theme of communication continues throughout the story as we see that, “ after the funeral, the two brothers sat and talked about Sonny’s future”. Sonny was able to tell his brother about his dream of becoming a jazz pianist which, we are told his bother dismissed. Lack of trust is portrayed again hear as the narrators dismissal in Sonny’s future plans shows that he did not trust him at the time. We are told that Sonny, “ reluctantly agreed to live with his sister in law after graduating from college”. This could be a symbol of disrespect towards his brother and at the same time a lack of trust on his part toward his own brother. The narrator tells us that Sonny would spend his spare time playing the piano which was against his brothers will. This portrays a lack of trust and disrespect of some degree as the rest of the family had a hard time bearing his constant practicing. Clark (2002)

Arguably, Sonny’s action could be described as portraying confidence and poise in what he wanted to do. Although his brother, the narrator may have insisted that what Sonny wanted to do wasn’t necessary right, Sonny stood his ground as the master of his own destiny. This shows spunk in his actions, ones that were driven by self belief and guidance. Sonny wanted to follow his dream and love and no wonder he wanted to spend more and...
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