Sonny Blues By James Baldwin Literature Review Examples

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Brother, Literature, Drugs, Family, Decision, Jazz, Life, Time

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/12

American novelist and poet James Baldwin is well-known for its masterfully written works concerning sexual and racial problems The story “Sonny Blues” by the famous author shows us the forgotten relationship between 2 brothers with completely different lives. The older brother chose to be smart person; he chose education and family as a significant part of his life. Conversely, the younger brother chose the path of crime. It is no mere chance that everything revolves around in Harlem, not the best place in the world.
With the help of plot analysis, one can see the problems that characters have faced. Because of more defined true-blue seeing of the problems and limits that are between the brothers and their goals how they want to reach them in the future. Throughout of the story, one can see the impact of such environmental settings on choices of Sonny’s brother about Sonny’s wish to be a jazzman.
The story begins with narrating by a Harlem’s commuter. This person, having lost his brother, finds him with the help of public media. He finds him in newspaper, that he has being damned of a crime connected with the usage of drugs. The narrator did not believe this, constantly repeating: “He hadn’t ever turned evil or disrespectful, the way kids can, so quick, so quick, especially in Harlem. (Baldwin, 127)” He thinks that Sonny is good, yet undoubtedly, narrator also mentioned that the consequences of social influence by the community had an impact on his decision-making process. There is a comparison of his brother with class that older brother was teaching: “and here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys who might, every one of them for all I knew, be popping off needles every time they went to the head.” (Baldwin, 127)” He states, that everyone, even the best students, could be exposed to danger of becoming a drug dealer or addict. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The older brother as it was mentioned is a teacher. Sometimes, he meets his brother’s old friends that add something about Sonny’s arrest. Nevertheless, after Sonny got out of the prison, the narrator meets him. Recalling their past, both brothers riding in the taxi, travel through old streets from their childhood. Next scene shows us the conversation of the narrator with his mother and the tragically death of his father’s brother. This makes him understand how essential his relationship with brother is. . .
He realizes that he has to be always there for him, and because of that the brother feels guilty. He also recalls that his younger brother’s decision of becoming a jazzman "seemed beneath him, somehow." As Sonny has not finished his education, his choice of being a jazzman creates a strong conflict between brothers. One can observe that acts and choices of narrator are affected his words with his mother. In contrast, Sonny's acts are due to that is his decision. It is possible to assume that drugs and jazz music are connected.
Sonny thinks that it is "the accident of fate" and starts using drugs. He uses them to "keep from drowning in the suffering all humans have to go through” (Baldwin, 132). Although there is an attempt to stop using drugs, Sonny fails to do that. Sonny avouches to his brother about the usage of drugs. Here one can see the climax of the story, when two brothers – the narrator and Sonny, understand each other after such long time of incomprehension. The resolution of the story shows the scene when the older brother comes with to a jazz club with his brother. It is hard for Sonny to blend in with his musical group as he has not practiced for a long time. Nevertheless, he succeeds and takes control rather quickly and becomes "part of a family again."
It is safe to say that the narrator understands that the music helped his brother to stay alive. Moreover, the older brother realizes that the jazz and blues can help everyone to be free. It is essential to say that “Sonny's Blues” shows us that one should always follow your dreams and not to doubt yourself as prejudice is wrong. Nevertheless, it is important to differentiate prejudice and advises from wiser and older people, as they may have more experience, and they have learned more during their lives. With the help of careful listening and person’s dreams people would have better lives, decisions and choices.

Work Cited

Baldwin, James. Sonny's Blues. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education, 1993. Print.

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WePapers. (2020, November, 12) Sonny Blues By James Baldwin Literature Review Examples. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from
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WePapers. 2020. "Sonny Blues By James Baldwin Literature Review Examples." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved May 24, 2024. (
"Sonny Blues By James Baldwin Literature Review Examples," Free Essay Examples -, 12-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24-May-2024].
Sonny Blues By James Baldwin Literature Review Examples. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 12, 2020. Accessed May 24, 2024.

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