Sonny's Blues, by James Baldwin. The effect that music and art had on his life.

Essay by kdagreenUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2002

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James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" portrays the life of two black men living in Harlem in the 1950's and their struggle to grow up in a society riddled with drugs and violence. The story's narrator is the eldest brother. He is an algebra teacher who discovers his younger brother's falling out through an article in a newspaper. The entire story evolves from this event.

The narrator's brother, Sonny, is a struggling musician. He was a good child while being raised, yet as an adult he was stricken with a problem of drug addiction. Sonny was arrested and sent to drug rehabilitation. His older brother had lost communication with him for several years prior, so the narrator struggled with himself and his emotions towards Sonny. Upon the death of the narrator's daughter Grace, he reopened the lines of communication between Sonny and himself. Some time later, Sonny was let out of rehab and went back to New York to be with his brother.

This story contains many stories within it. They are almost like flashbacks, but they give insight to the narrator's feelings and emotions. These stories establish a connection between the past and the present and give the reader a behind the scenes look at the relationship between the narrator and his brother. The stories give us details of their childhood, teen years, and adult life. During these years, the reader can see the relationship's progression.

There was one image that stood out throughout the story, and that was music. It appeared as though music was used very broadly to describe emotions. Music was the heart and soul in the story. Sonny's passion was music. This was the only way he was able to express himself. The narrator mentioned that Sonny was never much of a talker. So it...