Analyzing Sonny's Blues

Topics: Heroin, Narrative, Fiction Pages: 5 (2137 words) Published: February 18, 2007
Analysis of "Sonny's Blues"
"Sonny's Blues" was written in 1957, but carries a vital social message in our society today of people trying to understand one another and find their identity. "Sonny's Blues" not only states dramatically the motive for Baldwin's famous polemics in the cause of Black Freedom, but it also provides an esthetic linking his work, in all literary genres, with the cultures of the Black ghetto (Reilly 56). To truly understand Baldwin's purpose in writing "Sonny's Blues" about finding your identity, we need to analyze the story by using principles: plotline, point of view, character, setting, tone, style, theme, and imagery.

After reading "Sonny's Blues", the first thing to analyze is plotline, which is the basis for every story we have and is what gets us, the reader, to pay attention to minor details in the story. With plotline, there are five areas where the story is separated, which are the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the conclusion. The story, "Sonny's Blues," begins with the exposition that sets the scene, introduces the main characters, tells us what happened before the story opened, and provides any other background information that we, the reader, need in order to understand the events to follow. The story opens with the narrator on a subway in Harlem, reading a newspaper article about a drug raid in which Sonny, his brother, was involved in. At this point, the reader is encompassed with so many questions as to why this is in the beginning of the story and why this is significant besides the fact that the article is about the narrator's brother. Then the story continues with the rising action where we, the reader, watch the unfolding of a dramatic situation where Sonny is involved in some kind of conflict. At this point, the reader learns that the newspaper article is not only about Sonny being involved with the drug raid, but that Sonny is going to jail for a heroine addiction. At this point, the narrator is overcome with guilt and confusion about Sonny, because even though Sonny was wild at times, he was a "good kid". The narrator is then approached by one of Sonny's childhood friends, an addict who blames himself for Sonny's addiction and arrest. The narrator and the friend discuss what has happened to Sonny and the childhood friend makes a comment that "He don't want to die. He wants to live. Don't nobody want to die, ever" (Kennedy 46). By making that comment about Sonny, it seems like Sonny chose drugs to find direction in his life. It is at that point that we see the narrator begin to try to understand how and why Sonny has become an addict. Then there is the climax of the story or the highest point of tension when the narrator contacts Sonny. It takes a long time for the narrator to finally contact Sonny, but it isn't until his daughter, Gracie, dies that he finally decides to write to Sonny. By the narrator writing to Sonny in a time of grief, it seems like the narrator is doing this because he wants family support from Sonny during this crisis. As soon as Sonny receives the letter, Sonny responds immediately asking for forgiveness, trying to explain how and why he developed his heroin addiction, and expressing his uncertainty over what will happen to him when he is released from prison. At this point the narrator feels terrible for Sonny and when Sonny is released from prison, the narrator brings him back to live with his family in Harlem and begins to try to repair their relationship. This reunion is quite significant, because memories are brought out and the narrator remembers when Sonny took his first steps toward him and at that point it seems like the narrator wants Sonny to take his first steps of his life again, drug free. Then there is the falling action where there is some type of relief and the problem is being resolved. At this point in the story, the narrator flashes back to several scenes that occurred during their young...
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