Each story has a protagonist, the main character, the one that seems to have the attention focused on them. Then there's usually an antagonist, the opposite of the protagonist, the so- called "bad apple" in the family. It seems to be that way with the modern family we see today. "Sonny's Blues" is mainly of an older brother who only wants to see the best for his youngest brother, Sonny. Coming from a middle-class family, things that happen to Sonny aren't what the brother though would come about.
The oldest brother in the family has strong values but can't understand how his brother could get himself into so much trouble like this. He explains in the story that he and his family were trying so hard to be a model middle-class family in the Harlem 1950's. The brother, Sonny, had just returned from the military and didn't seem to be much of a hero, more of a rebel, kind of like he stuck out to the family. He starts to get into things that his family would never imagine him doing, drugs and trouble. "I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it, and couldn't believe it, and I read it again. Then perhaps I just stared at it, at the newsprint spelling out his name, spelling out the story. I stared at it in the swinging of the subway car, and in the faces and bodies of the people, and in my own face, trapped in the darkness which roared outside." ( 53)
Relating back to the narrator's values, he seems to have become a very upstanding gentleman. He wants to be the successful man and only wants the best for himself and his family. To tie in with the title, you also see that his daughter Grace has died. This relates to the Blues because it shows sorrow in death and the name of the daughter signifies that there could possibly be some hopes in helping his brother get out of his addiction. He is deeply concerned when he reads an article about his brother on the front page of the paper explaining to the subscriber that someone was arrested for...
Cited: Baldwin, James. "Sonny 's Blues." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Pearson/ Longman: New York. 2005. 53-76.
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