A Response to The Short Story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin
Sonny's Blues is a short story written by James Baldwin. In this story, Baldwin helps us understand the different ways people experience pain and suffering. It is a story about two brothers and the way they cope with pain and suffering in dissimilar ways. The narrator and his brother Sonny lives in a poor black dominant community in Harlem, where everyone struggles to survive. As the story begins, Sonny is arrested for using heroin while his brother is a high school teacher in Harlem, New York. In the end, we see Sonny plays blues in a club while his brother listens and this is when we learn that, the music helps the brothers to deal with their pain and suffering. The story is about suffering and how the characters were able to overcome their suffering in their own way.
The narrator in the story is an algebra high school teacher in Harlem. He is depicted as a decent man who is very obedient to his parents compared to his brother Sonny who never listens. The narrator experiences pain and suffering in his life even though at first he denies it and tries to fit in the middle class in the community. He lives in denial and this makes it impossible for him to understand what pain and suffering really is, and what his younger brother Sonny is going through. He uses his social position to protect himself from the emotional torture he is undergoing. When his daughter dies of polio, he begins understanding his brother and his sympathy for he says, "my trouble, made his real" (Baldwin 139). In his pain, the narrator learns to deal with it through interactions with his family and the people around him, unlike his brother who opts to use heroin. He never supports his brother’s dream of becoming a musician, from the start, which makes the two brothers distant. Sonny is angered by his patronizing until he makes it clear to him that "don't do me no favors" (Baldwin 135). In the beginning, the narrator in the...
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