Discuss Place and How James Baldwin Uses Elements of Setting to Convey Sonny's Blues' Larger Message or Theme.

Topics: Fiction, Short story, Conscription Pages: 3 (916 words) Published: April 5, 2005
Discuss place and how James Baldwin uses elements of setting to convey Sonny's Blues' larger message or theme.

Establishing and maintaining a certain identity mostly depends on the setting. The setting allows us to analyze someone at a deeper level. Considering the time, place and the circumstances around under which they respond allows us to explore them and determine their identity. In the short story "Sonny's Blues", James Baldwin conveys the message of how one goes about establishing and maintaining their identity on different levels by using elements of setting. The author uses elements of setting several times to convey the message but some of the prominent uses are the military service, life in Harlem and especially the use of darkness. The military service plays an important role in the evolving of the narrator's identity as it helps him gain respect and be recognized by the neighborhood, something that Sonny yearns for. Growing up in Harlem is the most important setting because the brothers endured several hardships in Harlem, which allowed them to establish and maintain a certain identity. The use of darkness is important because darkness signifies drugs and violence therefore if someone were seen in the dark, would be given an apathetic identity. The time spend in the military service helps the narrator establish personal characteristics which enable him to understand the world around him and be more successful in life. Being in the military has given him the recognition to be a teacher and the parents entrust him with their children. Also it allows the narrator to understand his brother and eventually help him with his struggle. Sonny understands this notion and yearns to enlist in the Navy; he was ready to lie about his age. He thought, "if I say I'm old enough, they'll believe me", this signifies how eager Sonny was to have the understanding and acceptance that his older brother had. After Sonny returned from the Navy, the narrator still imaged...
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