The story opens with the narrator, who reads about his younger brother named Sonny who has been caught in a heroin bust. The narrator then goes about his day; he is a teacher at a school in Harlem. However, he cannot get his mind off Sonny. After his daughter Grace dies of polio, he decides to write Sonny a letter.
The short story "Sonny's Blues" is Baldwin's most highly acclaimed treatment of his signature themes: Set in the early s in New York City, the story is narrated by an unnamed man who relates his attempts to come to terms with his long estranged brother, Sonny, a jazz musician.
Reilly, noting that an "outstanding quality of the Black literary tradition in America is its attention to the interdependence of personal and social experience," has concluded that "Sonny's Blues" both depicts and manifests the belief that the "artful expression of personal yet typical experience is one way to freedom.
As he ponders the meaning of Sonny's situation and of his own fraternal obligations, the narrator recalls scenes and impressions from his childhood. He remembers in particular the story his mother told him about the murder of his uncle, a blues musician, the effect this had on his father, and his mother's subsequent entreaty to the narrator to always look after Sonny.
After his relatively brief time in jail, Sonny comes to live with the narrator and his wife. The awkward, tentative conversations that ensue result in Sonny inviting his brother to hear him play at a Greenwich Village bar.
Accepting the offer as an attempt at reconciliation, the narrator experiences—through the nuances of the music and the subtle interplay of the musicians—a sublime understanding of his brother and of the importance of music as a release from existential suffering.
Major Themes Like much of Baldwin's writing, fiction as well as nonfiction, "Sonny's Blues" addresses specific racial issues and themes regarding the human condition. Displaying the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, whose works were largely responsible for articulating the philosophy of Existentialism, Baldwin depicts a world in which suffering characterizes man's basic state.
The story's principal characters, however, not only struggle through an absurd world devoid of inherent meaning, but must also persevere in a society that tolerates racism.
Baldwin thus sees black Americans suffering doubly: In "Sonny's Blues" Baldwin addresses these issues by employing metaphors of darkness and anxiety, incorporating images of confinement, and offering portraits of life in contemporary Harlem and, through the narrator's recollection of his childhood and family, the American South.
Another of the story's major themes concerns music, specifically jazz and blues.
Baldwin uses these forms, which are African American in origin, for various purposes. Music is associated with particular eras and places-blues with the South's past and jazz, specifically bebop, with the modern urban setting.
Also, Baldwin characterizes the narrator, in part, by his lack of musical knowledge; critics note that the emotional distance between the brothers is symbolized by the narrator's unfamiliarity with bebop and his ignorance of the great saxophone player Charlie "Bird" Parker.
Moreover, commentators note that the narrator's epiphanic experience at the end of the story, when he hears Sonny's playing, instantiates the theme of the redemptive powers of music and signals the rebirth of the brothers' relationship.
Critical Reception "Sonny's Blues" is generally considered one of Baldwin's finest works. Many commentators have discussed the story in relation to the author's role as a civil-rights leader.
Reilly has noted that "Sonny's Blues" "states dramatically the motive for Baldwin's famous polemics in the cause of Black freedom. Joseph Featherstone, for example, remarked that at various points in the story one hears "not the voice of Sonny or his brother, [but] the intrusive voice of Baldwin the boy preacher.Sonny in the Dark: Jazzing the Blues Spirit and the Gospel Truth in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” Steven C.
Tracy University of Massachusetts, Amherst Abstract The webs of musical connection are essential to the harmony and cohesion of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues.”tranceformingnlp.com Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin - Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin A captivating tale of a relationship between two troubling brothers in Harlem, "Sonny's Blues" is told from the perception of Sonny's brother, whose name is never mentioned.
Essay on Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin: Review The story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin is about two African-American brothers, the narrator (a schoolteacher) and Sonny (a jazz pianist), who struggle to understand each other.
The narrator is a stable family man with a wife and two tranceformingnlp.com://tranceformingnlp.com James Baldwin Review (JBR) is an annual journal that brings together a wide array of peer‐reviewed critical and creative work on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin.
In addition to these cutting-edge contributions, each issue contains a review of recent Baldwin scholarship and an award-winning graduate student tranceformingnlp.com://tranceformingnlp.com · James Baldwin'S "Sonny's Blues" Words | 3 Pages.
Harrison's Blues There can be little doubt that the characters who are the most similar in James Baldwin's short story "Sonny's Blues", and in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s short story "Harrison Bergeron", are the title characters of each respective tranceformingnlp.com://tranceformingnlp.com A celebration of Great Black Music From The Ancient To The Future.
It's all about Soul, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Funk, and about the culture they have evolved fromBlack/Urban Music and Culture News, Concert Reviews, CD Reviews, Book Reviews Audio/Graphical content upcoming events, and links. Keep up with what's happening in the world of Soul, Funk, Blues, Rock n' Roll and Jazz.