Conflict Of Control In Sonny's Blues

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“Sonny’s Blues” is a short story about a narrator who possesses inner conflict of control. The story begins with the narrator reading a newspaper. We later find out that the newspaper was stating that his brother, Sonny, has been caught for drugs. This begins the inner conflict that we see within the narrator in this story. The narrator does not want to believe that his brother has done this. As he walks from the subway station he thinks, “It was not to be believed. . . And at the same time I couldn’t doubt it” (Mays, 93). Throughout the story, we see the narrator struggle with how he views Sonny should live his life and how Sonny desires to live his own life.
Growing up in Harlem was hard on the two brothers. As a result, there lives turn
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This instigates emotions in the narrator that causes him to reach out to Sonny. Also, these emotions are the beginning of the narrator finally understanding Sonny’s need for music. “. . .the uncontrollability of loss leads him to discover his brother’s own responses to unpredictable sorrow and need, through both drug addiction and music” (Kowalska, 2). Through the narrator’s own need for control, he realizes that Sonny’s actions are also led by his own need for control. Sonny desires control, and he looks for it through drugs and music. As the two brothers discuss Sonny’s life, Sonny states, “It (heroin) makes you feel – in control. Sometimes you’ve got to have that feeling” (Mays, 109). This statement is a step in the right direction towards reconciliation for the brothers. While they still disagree about drugs, the narrator is finally able to see why Sonny has an addiction. Before, the narrator was so blinded by his need for controlling Sonny’s life that he was not able to see the reasons behind Sonny’s actions. Full reconciliation comes when the narrator sees Sonny playing the …show more content…
Sonny suddenly becomes in his element. He greets those around him like they are family. The narrator describes it as Sonny’s “kingdom.” This is a new part of Harlem that the narrator has never seen before. It is clear that this is Sonny’s world and in the nightclub, the narrator is simply Sonny’s brother and nothing else. As Sonny plays, the narrator observes, “He has to fill it, the instrument, with the breath of life, his own. He has to make it do what he wants it to do” (Mays, 113). Before, the narrator had never played an instrument, rarely had he even seen one being played. Music was never an important aspect to his life and for this reason, he felt music was simply a hobby. Now, the narrator is able to see what music is to Sonny. It’s life; it’s breath. It’s what sustains Sonny and allows him to endure the pain of life. The narrator has been carrying the weight of his painful life with him. He has had no control over his parents dying or his little daughter dying, so he tries to maintain control of Sonny’s life. Since he cannot control Sonny, there is always that conflict between the two. As the narrator sits and watches Sonny, he comes to understand Sonny like he never had before. “. . .the face I saw on Sonny I’d never seen before. Everything had been burned out of it, and, at the same time, things usually hidden were being burned in, by the fire and fury of the battle which was occurring in him. . .” (Mays, 113). As a result

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