Dr. Jessica Datema
WRT – 201 – 089WB
October 20, 2014
The Darkness In Between “Sonny’s Blues”
“Sonny’s Blues” is a short story, written by James Baldwin, about two brothers from Harlem, NY. The story is told in the first person perspective by one brother about is younger brother, Sonny. The narrator, who remains unnamed throughout the story, is Sonny’s older brother and no other siblings are mentioned, so it is safe to assume it is only the two of them. The narrator remains unnamed simply because his name is not relevant. The story is told by him, from his perspective, however, it does not matter who he is exactly. The narrator is a representation of the few black men in that time that were able to overcome the effects of inequality. We learn at the beginning of the story that the narrator was an algebra teacher, meaning he was able to get a fair education, he was able to finish school and make a career from the schooling he endured. Sonny, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. Sonny, like many from Harlem in that time, got mixed up in the wrong crowd, experimented with drugs, was ridiculed for spending time “in a white girl’s apartment” (Beiderwell, Wheeler 400). Not only does the narrator remain unnamed, but also it evident early on that he is unable to “hear” what his brother, and many others, have to say. During a flashback to when their mother passed away, the narrator and Sonny are speaking about what is going to happen next. Sonny clearly states, “Look brother. I don’t want to stay in Harlem no more, I really don’t.” (398) When the narrator asks Sonny where he wants to go, Sonny replies by saying he wants to join the army, or navy. This enrages the narrator and Sonny tries to communicate is desperation even more clear by saying “I just told you. To get out of Harlem.” (Beiderwell, Wheeler 398) If the narrator actually listened to what his brother was telling him, he’d realize there was reasoning behind his desperation to leave....
Cited: Beiderwell, Bruce John, and Jeffery M. Wheeler. "Sonny 's Blues." The Literary Experience. Compact ed. Boston: Thomson, 2008. 384-410. Print.
"Origin of the Name Grace." Namipedia. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. .
""Sonny 's Blues" Lecture." "Sonny 's Blues" Lecture. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. .
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