The Light and Darkness of Suffering Depicted in Sonny's Blues
2446 Words10 Pages
All of humanity suffers at one point or another during the course of their lives. It is in this suffering, this inevitable pain, that one truly experiences life. While suffering unites humankind, it is how we choose to cope with this pain that defines us as individuals. The question becomes do we let suffering consume us, or do we let it define our lives? Through James Baldwin’s story, “Sonny’s Blues”, the manner by which one confronts the light and darkness of suffering determines whether one is consumed by it, or embraces it in order to “survive.” Viewing a collection of these motifs, James Baldwin’s unique perspective on suffering as a crucial component of human development becomes apparent. It is through his compassionate portrayal of…show more content…
They have not escaped from anything, life is still the same as it always was. It is through these unfortunate, but inevitable, events that the brothers are able to reconnect and to obtain an understanding of each other. The interplay of dark and light motifs underlies the narrator’s most recent hardship. On his way home on the subway, the narrator comes across his brother’s name in a newspaper and “stared at it in the swinging lights of the subway car, and in the faces and bodies of the people, and in my own face, trapped in the darkness which roared outside” (Baldwin). Riding in the light of the subway car, the author makes the non-suspecting narrator subject to suffering, unguarded by the protective cloak of the outside darkness. Made vulnerable by the exposed light and people surrounding him, the narrator is hit harder by the unexpected news than if he had read it in the darkness of his private room. Under the “swinging lights,” the narrator is not prepared to cope with the troubling news. This emphasizes the importance of light as a symbol for one’s need of camouflage to properly cope with tragedy. The narrator finds himself confronted with different forms of suffering that encompass both light and dark mechanisms of survival. Upon seeing Sonny for the first time in many years, “He looked very unlike my baby brother. Yet, when he smiled… the baby brother I’d never known looked out from the depths of his private life, like
Point of View and Theme in Sonny’s Blues Essay
771 Words4 Pages
In James Baldwin’s short story, Sonny’s Blues, he describes a story of pain and prejudice. The theme of suffering makes the readers relate to it. The story is told in the realistic point of view of Sonny’s brother. The setting and time of the story also has great significance to the story. From beginning to end, the story is well developed. The short story is narrated by Sonny’s older brother. He is a school a responsible school teacher, with a family of his own. The story begins by the brother, whose name is unidentified in the story, finding out that his young brother Sonny got arrested for possession and selling drugs, specifically heroin. He is the type of older brother that is protective yet he is angry for what his brother has…show more content…
When his brother asked him what he wanted to do, he quickly responded “I’m going to be a musician.” There wasn’t any thinking needed; he knew exactly what he wanted in life. Though the brother’s point of view we get to see how unimpressed he was that Sonny wanted to be a musician. “It seemed -beneath him, somehow,” Sonny’s brother wrote. Though the story is well written in the point of view that it is told in, the weaknesses are that the readers don’t get to see everything through Sonny’s eyes and see his struggles.
The setting of this story takes place in Harlem in the 1960’s. Though in 1954 when the Brown vs. Broad case found that racially segregates schools were not equal at all, there was still the transition where blacks were still being treated unequally. Harlem was not the ideal living area, but for Sonny and his family it was what they could afford. This may have to do with why Sonny got into drugs. He was in a primarily black community where there wasn’t much opportunity for them to do the things they wanted. It may have been the people Sonny would hang out with, the thought that he wasn’t going anywhere in life, or the thought that his family needed more money, that made him ultimately resort to selling drugs.
The theme of this story can be expressed as a story of suffering and racism. Though the theme may be thought of as just about a young boy who gets himself in trouble with drugs and tries to redeem himself by his passion of music; it