“Sonny’s Blues” essay

As a matter of fact, all people derive identity from the world around them. By our unconscious identifications we judge and evaluate the world around us as well as ourselves. We create images of how we want to see ourselves from things that appeal to us. But various circumstances, including those coming from the childhood, if leaving some emotional wounds, will forever influence the world outlook. We all try to preserve our identities though sometimes ignore their true sense or fail to understand them fully. The humanity has always been searching for answers to the questions of individual comprehension of things, human values, choosing of the right individual path leading to happiness and fulfillment.

The short story “Sonny’s Blues” vividly shows the way of two brothers who choose different life ways and have various purposes and pursuits they follow. In the story the author touches upon everlasting social problems of the society, inequality, prejudice, racial discrimination, cruelty, and misunderstanding among them. But what strikes me most, and what seems to be the most important is the state in which the narrator finds himself. His younger brother Sonny, childhood reminiscences, mother’s admonitions and the sidewalk scene the two brothers occasionally witness makes the narrator listen, hear and therefore understand Sonny. A sudden change which occurred to the narrator urged him on realizing what stood between them “forever, beyond the power of time or forgiveness”¦silence-so long!-when Sonny had needed human speech to help him”. The narrator was ready to reach out and lend a helping hand to his brother who suffered drug abuse and was “living with sound”, as all his life was related and devoted to the blues.

The example of the two brothers brought up in Harlem, the country’s largest black community, shows how people recognize their identities after years of separation. The narrator integrated into the white community, he became a high school algebra teacher in New York, while Sonny never attempted to, he searched for his freedom in music and lived in his own world, as the narrator noticed in the night club, Sonny existed in his “kingdom” of the jazz and blues. Several flashbacks to the childhood show how interconnected the brothers are and how much they shared in childhood.

The narrator feels his responsibility and an impulse of watching over his brother, he feels how much they missed.

But it is not the guilt that makes the narrator to understand his brother, it is their inseparable nature, compared with the same nature of life and suffering which Sonny undergoes. As they have a long talk, Sonny is finally understood, the musician uses drugs for keeping from drowning in suffering.

The climax of the story hits the readers’ minds, so that the blues turns out to be a force setting the narrator free from what he thought before, putting him up to what Sonny strives to show in his music. Though the music, Sonny is able to turn his suffering into something worthwhile, holding his “cup of trembling”.

The blues became an instrument which initiated the rebuilding of the brothers’ relations and attitude either to the self or to the others. The narrator claims that as Sonny played “freedom lurked around” and he finally recognized the identity, his family and ethnic ties, pondering over and guessing what Sonny was giving back in his music that “passing through death it can live forever”¦and it brought something else back”¦” Music broke down barriers and set both brothers on the road of understanding where their individual path and ethnic ties are.

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