Conflict In Sonny's Blues, By James Baldwin

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“Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin, is a narrative exploring the relationship between Sonny and his older brother. After years of estrangement, Sonny and his brother attempt to resume a brotherly relationship. After watching a revival meeting occur on the street from the window of his home, Sonny’s brother accepts Sonny’s invitation to watch Sonny perform at a local venue. During Sonny’s performance, Sonny’s brother comes finally to understand Sonny. Baldwin’s central idea suggests that people cope with tragedy and hardships in different ways. Furthermore, Baldwin presents his central idea through the round and dynamic characterization of the narrator. The narrator is Sonny’s unnamed older brother, a somewhat successful man still living in …show more content…
The primary conflict in this story is the internal struggle the narrator experiences in his inability to respect Sonny’s choices and views. When their mother passes away, the narrator attempts to have a serious conversation with Sonny about Sonny’s future. Although Sonny tells his brother what he has planned for his future, the narrator believes Sonny’s choice is not a serious or valid choice and refuses to accept this choice. Sonny complains that the narrator does not listen to him even though he has told the narrator all along what he would like to do and how leaving Harlem and school would be best for him. Although Sonny and his brother have a conversation about Sonny’s past troubles, when the narrator listens to Sonny’s performance he truly understands what Sonny revealed to him. Through this resolution of understanding, the narrator realizes Baldwin’s central …show more content…
The story takes place in Harlem, New York, an historically black community, rampant with poverty and drug use. The narrator reveals his view of the city by noting, “Those who got out always left something of themselves behind, as some animals amputate a leg and leave it in the trap,” (Baldwin 52). The setting plays an important part in this narrative since Sonny wants to leave to escape the dangers of this community. Within this setting of Harlem also is the club where Sonny plays music at, which is where the people revere him: “yet, it was clear that, for them, I was only Sonny’s brother. Here I was in Sonny’s world. Or, rather his kingdom. Here it was not even a question that his veins bore royal blood” (Baldwin 66). The setting provides the hardships that both Sonny and his brother endure however, they cope in different ways which reinforces Baldwin’s central

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