Symbols And Themes In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

1332 Words 5 Pages
A short story that is heavily influenced by the civil rights movement is Sonny’s Blues. This inspiring short story is written by James Baldwin, a truly great African American author, and was published in 1957. This racial unrest is shown through an analysis of this story’s setting, characters, symbols and themes. The setting of this story takes place in 1920’s Harlem, New York, and known for the “Harlem Renaissance” movement. It was the center for black culture; black artists flocked to this city to create new ideas and make new contributions through literature, art, dance, and music. During this time, African Americans were tired of racial prejudices and were against white, night club establishments in their city that use Jim Crow law. …show more content…
She asks the narrator to take care of Sonny if anything happens to her. The narrator responds,”…Sonny’s all right. He’s a good boy and he’s got a good sense” (Baldwin James, page 103). His mother says, “It ain’t a question of his being a good boy, not of his having good sense. It ain’t only the bad ones, nor yet the dumb ones that get sucked under” (Baldwin James, page 103). The narrator’s mother knew the dangers, and the dark side of Harlem. She was fearful of that while the narrator was away in the war Sonny would succumb to pressures of his surroundings. Sonny would, however, fall prey to the drug temptation years …show more content…
They feel that they have been wronged by the whites. These blacks had been slaves or decedents of slaves, leaving their rural communities in search of a new beginning and a chance to create a new black American culture. Big cities like Harlem where supposed to make that dream come true. When rural blacks got to the city of Harlem, they realized that life was not that easy. Work was not as plentiful as they hoped and they could not get away from white oppression and discrimination. Baldwin shows this oppression of the black people when he mentions the Cotton Club. This club was in the middle of the Harlem community, yet the blacks in Harlem were banned from going into this club. Clubs, like “The Cotton Club”, only fueled the anger and resentment that was felt by Harlem’s community and other blacks throughout the nation. Sonny feels that he had a calling to soothe some of the anger in his people with his music. While Sonny was at a revival he was enthralled by the women singer. He says to his brother, “…her voice reminded me for a minute of what Heroin feels like sometimes---when it gets in your veins. It makes you feel sort of warm and cool at the same time” (Baldwin James, page 112). James Baldwin infers that being saved by God is like the high feeling you get from Heroin. He wants the audience to know that God is all powerful and can lift somebody up no matter how low they are in life. Sonny wants to be a

Related Documents