?Sonny?S Blues? Essay, Research Paper
? Sonny?s Blues ? starts off by not informing the reader much about the
characters which will be presented in the story. However, the author does have an
interesting way of beginning the story ,for after reading the first two opening lines : ? I
read it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it, and I couldn?t believe it,
and I read it again ?, it enables readers to continue on with the story, so to help them
understand the significance of those two lines and why the author makes them sound so
James Baldwin wrote this story so that it showed two opposite lives of the main
characters, and their own perspectives on life itself. This is an excellent example on how
readers can relate to the characters. Baldwin?s techniques on writing this story is so
magnificent that it almost appears to be biography about an actual person. Perhaps it is,
or maybe the whole story is a fact about life which might later be turned into a biography
for certain individual.
This essay will discuss the setting as well as the theme(s) of the short story
?Sonny?s Blues ? by James Baldwin. The essay will also include, the subject of tone(s) .
The setting is quite an important issue when it comes to writing any story. The
setting that an author chooses has to be linked to the theme or the tone that is presented.
For example : when writing about a horror story, it would be a wise choice for the author
to take the reader to an abandoned area where the only thing that lights up the dark skies
would be the lightning of a storm. Now if we would take a minute now and think of the
scenery of Harlem, New York, a poor community would come to mind, or as some say ;
Throughout the whole story, the setting takes place in New York the author
explains the two complete different lives of two brothers who both grew up
in Harlem. We basically learn that growing up in the ?ghetto? is not easy at all. ?And
he?d always been a good boy, he hadn?t ever turned hard or evil or disrespectful, the way
kid can, so quick, so quick, especially in Harlem ? This quote refers to Sonny, but we
also learn what kids become after growing up in Harlem.
The author also focuses on the poorer parts of New York, such as the subway,
taxis , bars, etc. We also come across a character which was one of Sonny?s friends and
who begs for money and has nowhere to stay. ? And now, even though he was a grown –
up man, he still hung around that block, still spent hours on the street corners, was
always high and raggy. I used to run into him from time to time and he?d often work
around to asking me for a quarter of fifty cents.? The author also takes the reader on
a journey to a different part of New York which is not mentioned often in the story. ? So
we drove along, between the green park and the stony lifeless elegance of hotels and
apartment buildings, towards the vivid, killing streets of our childhood ? We
automatically learn from this quote that the two brothers were not raised in a rich and
safe environment, but the opposite. ? Safe ! ?my father grunted , whenever Mama
suggested trying to move to a neighborhood which might be safer for children. ? Safe,
hell! Ain?t no place safe for kids, nor nobody.
Although Sonny?s brother is an algebra teacher in a high school and has a family
of his own, he doesn?t have the luxury that he maybe would like to have. ? We live in a
housing project. It hasn?t been up long. A few days after it was up it seemed
uninhabitably new, now, of course, it?s already rundown. It looks like a parody of the
good, clean, faceless life – God knows the people who live in it do their best to make it a
parody. The beat – looking grass lying around isn?t enough to make their lives green, the
hedges will never hold out the streets, and they know it. The big window fool no one, they
aren?t big enough to make space out of no space …the playground is most popular with
the children who don?t play at jacks, or skip rope, or roller skate, or swing, and they
can be found in it after dark ?
Now that we know a little about the setting, it?s easier to distinguish the tone of
the story. Obviously it isn?t a very happy one for everything described in this story is
quite depressing. So by knowing this, we may say that the tone is filled with the emotion
of sadness as well as some degree of depression.
Readers can learn much after reading a story like ?Sonny?s Blues ? The themes
of the story have much to do with courage, hope, survival, and brotherhood. Sonny?s
brother is seven years older than him, giving him more responsibility , and their mother
always told the older brother to take care of Sonny because she wouldn?t be around for
much longer to do it herself ?You got to hold on to your brother…and don?t let him fall,
no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you gets with
him. You going to be evil with him many a time….? And he replied ? Don?t you worry, I
won?t forget. I won?t let nothing happen to Sonny ? However, things didn?t end up the
way it was promised. Sometimes that?s just the way life goes, and there?s nothing you
can do about it.The narrator ended up being an algebra teacher, and Sonny, a heroin
addict who always wanted to be a musician.
The narrator didn?t respect his brother?s decision with his life so he just left him
alone with no sign of support or love for his brother. One may say he did a selfish act to
leave his younger brother out there by himself to survive with no contact for a long time.
So Sonny, still a young man at the time, was on his own.
However, after the narrator found out that his brother is a heroin addict and was
locked up, it made him wonder if he had anything to do with it. He felt guilty now that he
hasn?t been there for his brother when he needed help. So he begin to show interest in his
brother?s life the way he should of from the beginning. This made Sonny really happy.
Family should always be there to help and support one another. Members of the
family should always guide one onto the right path in life. Unfortunately, Sonny took the
wrong path in life and he had to pay the price.Luckily, the story had a happy ending once
the two brothers were joined together again.