Analysis Of Sonny's Blues

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Harlem was the hotbed of cultural and political revolution in the late 1950s. The African-American Civil Rights movement, spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, and Malcolm X, was reaching its climax. However, in this state of metamorphosis the African-American faced another predicament. Acclaimed sociologist and civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois called this Double Consciousness. Du Bois was able to amalgamate Western European philosophy during his time studying in Berlin to identify this dilemma. He probed, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One …show more content…
In Sonny’s Blues the narrator, Sonny’s brother, is an upstanding school teacher in Harlem who one day discovers that his Sonny was incarcerated for using and peddling heroin. Burdened with the paramount task of taking care of his younger brother after their parents died, this news devastated the narrator. Despite being siblings the narrator and Sonny were so impervious to each other. The narrator found it increasingly difficult to pierce through Sonny’s veil and see him for who he really was. This was in part due to Sonny’s intrinsic nature of being private, but mostly because the narrator never wanted to embrace that side of Sonny. He was dubious of where this path that Sonny has chosen would take him. However, as the story crescendos into an epic finale with Sonny on stage with his piano, the narrator was finally able to see Sonny for who he really was. The intermingle of distance and point of view between the narrator and Sonny provides more substance to the ending. The brother who was so agonizingly close to Sonny yet so far was finally able to understand the reason of his blues and, in that, he found redemption.
A recurring theme in Sonny’s Blues is the constant struggle between light and darkness, failure and redemption. It demonstrate Baldwin’s ability to transform his social and political concerns into art. In “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin takes on Harlem’s deterioration, religion, drug addiction, and post–World War II America all at the same time. The story, like the characters in it, literally struggles under the weight of so much

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