Literary Essay Sample on Sonny's Blues

Paper Type: 
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  836 Words
Date:  2021-03-08

Sonny's Blues is a fictional story written by James Baldwin who lived in the years of 1924 to 1987 (God rest his soul). He was the son of a revivalist minister and was raised in abject poverty in Harlem where he was initially a preacher before pursuing his writing career. His works focus on the intellectual and spiritual trials of the blacks in a racist society filled with whites. Sonnys blue is one of those pieces he wrote (Pratt).

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This paper is going to analyze Sonnys blue as a fictional story. It is going to answer the question: What does "Sonny's Blues gain from being told from Sonny's brother's point of view as opposed to the point of view of Sonny? Why does it matter to readers' understandings of themselves, others or the world?

First and foremost, it is important to note the fact that Sonny was a junkie and a drug peddler at the same time. Just like many drug addicts, they do not realize that they have a drug problem until it is too late. In most cases, they know but tend to be in denial with this fact. Therefore, instead of accepting and making peace with that so that they can be helped; they live in denial and this only further drives them deep into the drugs' world. They see nothing wrong with their habits and live in the false mentality that they can quit drugs when they want to or feel like it. Moreover, sure enough, Sonny knew that whatever he was doing was wrong and he wouldn't even admit it in a story for fear of publicity.

For this reason, the story is more meaningful being told from Sonny's brother point of view. First, because he is in a position to see clearly what his brother cannot. Therefore, he gives the reader a chance to see the whole picture at a clearer perspective. Was it her brother writing from his perspective, probably he wouldn't have admitted to having a drug problem and the step to take him to a rehabilitation center would have been deemed unnecessary which is not true. Sonny would have been complaining of being picked on unnecessarily and that the whole drugs thing was exaggerated.

Sometimes being too close to the puzzle hinders you from seeing the bigger picture. The best way to go about it is to step back and since Sonny was not in a capacity to make that decision of stepping back from drugs, his brother could see him for who he really. The reality is more vivid from Sonny's point of view.

Secondly, the story makes more sense being told from Sonny's brother's point of view since we as readers, are able to empathize with Sonny's brother. He tells us how he feels about Sonny's condition and how he was scared for him. It is through his point of view that we really learn about the silent love he had for Sonny; although he knew what Sonny was involved in, he was shutting his eyes on that because of the love he had for his brother.

He cared deeply about Sonny that even though he had an idea about Sonny being wild, he never accepted the fact that he was beyond wild and actually crazy. Were the story told by Sonny, it would be hard for the readers to capture the impact that his lifestyle had on his brother. In the best-case scenario, the effect would have been suppressed and been too superficial to be interesting or capture all the details/emotions felt by his brother.

Thirdly, reading the story from Sonny's brother's point of view tells us more about Sonny's friends for whom they were. Unlike his brother, Sonny wouldn't have painted a true and clear picture of his friends. To start with, these were his friends, ones he had chosen out of his own free will and was proud to be associated with them. Needless to say, Sonny wouldn't have found fault in them. On the other hand, his brother goes ahead and even tells us how he disliked Sonny's friends and the only reason he was listening to them after school was primarily because they reminded him of Sonny.

Concerning the boy he shared a moment with after class who happened to be Sonny's friend, he tells us he spent most of his time in street corners high and raggy asking for petty cash. Sonny wouldn't see this because he was his friend. It is also through his conversation with Sonny's brother that we learn about his absence from Sonny's life for about a year. It is through Sonny's brother point of view that we get to learn how his friends perceived Sonny. Most times, even in current times, it is hard to have a genuine opinion coming from your friend that is not flattery in nature. It takes a third person to know what you really think and feel about someone.

Works Cited

Pratt, Louis H. James Baldwin. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978.

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