In “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, we learn about two brothers, Sonny, and his older brother, the narrator. This story is as much about the narrator as it is about Sonny. Despite the fact that each takes separate paths in life, both still go through an immense amount of suffering. While the unconditional love this family revives plays a vital role in their success as individuals, at the end of the day, it is the individual who will choose his own destiny. They are each able to rise above the trials and tribulations that have become socially acceptable in the community they have grown up in. Even though ultimately it is the individual that decides his own fate, this story is about the struggles two brothers go through in life, both individually and together. They rise above being victims of their environment and recapture the unconditional love that their family offers them to help reclaim the strength within to succeed as individuals.
Both of these brothers suffer in spite of the separate paths they take in life. These roads are very different. The narrator sticks to service before self by first serving in the military and then coming home to be a teacher in Harlem, meanwhile, Sonny begins skipping out on school to hangout with less than desirable influences and eventually finds himself locked up in prison after getting caught up in a drug bust. The narrator distances himself emotionally from his brother and the people of Harlem. He loves his brother but is very critical of Sonny’s life and decisions. Shortly after he learns of his brothers fate following a drug bust, the narrator talks to a friend of Sonny’s and asks why Sonny wants to die. “He don’t want to die. He wants to live. Don’t nobody want to die, ever.” (503) It has not clicked at this point that this is merely his brothers suffering as he struggles to try and follow his dream into music. The brothers’ drift apart further after Sonny goes to prison, and it is the...
Cited: Baldwin, James. "Sonny 's Blues." Literature Craft and Voice. Vol 1. Delbanco, Nicholas, and Cheuse, Alan. New York: McGraw Hill. 2010. 501-516.
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