Sonny’s Blues (Sonny’s complex personality)

James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues is a story that revolves around two brothers, and unnamed narrator and Sonny who are out seeking salvation for their personal problems. The narrator is concerned that his students will end up like his brother when he says, “Yet it had happened 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 4). The narrator is a teacher and learns that his brother has been arrested for heroin despite being a smart and innocent boy. The author writes, “I’m surprised at Sonny, though . . . I thought Sonny was a smart boy, I thought he was too smart to get hung” (Baldwin 21). Through a foreshowing, it appears that he failed in taking care of his brother. It is apparent that Sonny is, however, interested in music and is facing a drug dependence challenge that is keeping him away from his potential. In James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”, following a series of hurdles related to his addiction and that were soothed by music in, Sonny developed a complex personality that played a huge role in the foreshadowing of his death.

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It is critical to note that the story revolves around a foretelling of death for Sonny based on the subject’s character as compared to others who went through distressing experiences in the book. The mortal forewarning is deliberated in the consideration of the likening of Sonny’s character to his father in the manner in which they would argue constantly. It is depicted as though the two shared the element of fighting based on the spirit of arguments that they possessed. The correlation that is made to infer Sonny’s mortal end is through the consideration of how his father ended up being affected by an ordeal that occurred earlier on. The author reports that Sonny’s father witnessed a show where his brother was run over by a group of white people who supposedly hit him purposely. He ended up being distressed and troubled by the trauma that he ended up never feeling the revenge for the ordeal. The author writes, “I’m glad Mama and Daddy are dead and can’t see what’s happened to their son” (Baldwin 34). After being haunted by the experience, it is revealed that the father tried searching for reality in his whole life but never fund one and soon died with the void. The comparison that the author makes for Sony and father makes it appear that Sonny is also likely to die without having had the chance of knowing reality.

Sonny is also fond of chronic addiction to drugs that played a huge role in the foresight of his death. Throughout the story, it is made clear that there is no hiding the fact that the main character was fond of using and peddling drugs that made him undergo various challenges in his life. One significant instance that proves the excessive peddling of drugs is the instance where the author states, “He had been picked up, the evening before, in a raid on an apartment downtown, for peddling and using heroin” (Baldwin 5). It is demonstrated that Sonny had become so much involved in drugs that he had started using them for commercial purposes, an indication that he was headed towards his untimely death. In fact, it is important to consider that it is after Sonny told his brother to consider him dead that he decided to overindulge and the next time the narrator heard of his brother was through the newspaper following a report he got from one of the columns. It can be inferred that through mentioning that the narrator should as well consider him head and then deciding that he resorts to drugs, Sonny was referring to a mortal end.

Despite having undergone multiple challenging experiences, the music that Sonny had a passion for was the ultimate source of salvation. Throughout the novel, it is described that the two brothers are on a journey seeking some form of solace and relaxation in their endeavors. The author states, “And I’d known this avenue all my life, but it seemed to me again, as it had on the day I’d first heard about Sonny’s trouble, filled with a hidden menace which was its very breath of life” (Baldwin 73). The narrator seeks to fulfill her mother’s dying wish of taking care of Sonny while Sonny himself is not settled following his release from prison as had a bad experience with the narrator’s family. It is described, “For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness” (Baldwin 45). The statement is made following their reunion later in the novel after the two brothers agreed to meet at a concern where Sonny would be performing and thought on a temporal basis, the narrator is able to find solace. The author writes about the healing effect that music had on the narrator meaning that Sonny’s performance had a soothing effect in the end.

In summary, it is clear that the experiences that Sonny and the narrator had played a huge role in defining the mortal end in the foreshadowing of their fate. Sonny particularly undergoes a challenging life of addiction, and the distress he underwent is used to make inferences into the deadly end he was headed. However, through music, it was possible to reconcile the two brothers’ challenges as they managed to realize a salvation.


Work Cited

Baldwin, James. Sonny’s Blues. Penguin Books Limited – African Americans, 1995. Print.