African American Culture

Topics: Family, Sibling, Short story Pages: 3 (1073 words) Published: January 15, 2013
African American Cultural Influence on an Author

Johanna Salloum

ENG 356


James states in his Autobiographical Notes, “I have not written about being a Negro at such length because I expect that to be my only subject, but only because it was the gate I had unlocked before I could write about anything else”. Baldwin’s interpretation of African American life is very dissimilar from Walker’s. I will compare and contrast Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” to Walker’s “Everyday Use” in order to show each authors unique ways of relating what Baldwin calls “ambiguity and irony of Negro life”. In other words “merely a Negro; or, even merely a Negro writer” (1) In Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” we read of a story about two men; one is the narrator and the others name is Sonny they are also brothers. The narrator expresses that he has no relationship with his brother. They were both raised by the same parents but Sonny had a really bad relationship with the father though they seemed to be very similar in nature. The narrator has not spoken to his brother Sonny for many years. The narrator decides to write Sonny after he has suffered from a loss of a loved one and Sonny does reply. Sonny is in jail for drugs, but he has now been released and goes to live with his brother and his family, and where they eat dinner and reminisce about their pass and their mother, who is now deceased, and their drunken father. We learn that Sonny and his father have a lot of the same similarities, for example shutting people out and becoming addicted to a drug, be it alcohol or heroin. The narrator is trying to connect with his brother through this story but they just can not seem to get on the same page at all. The narrators’ wife Isabel...

References: 1. Charters, A. (Ed.). (2007). The Story and its Writer (7th ed.). James Baldwin, “Autobiographical Notes” pgs. 1411-1415
2. Charters, A. (Ed.). (2007). The Story and its Writer (7th ed.).James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues” pgs. 47-69
3. Charters, A. (Ed.). (2007). The Story and its Writer (7th ed.). Alice Walker, “Everyday Use” pgs. 1306-1312
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