Essay Suffering as a Common Denominator

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“Sonny’s Blues” is a short story in which James Baldwin, the author, presents an existential world where suffering characterizes a man’s basic state. The theme of tragedy and suffering can be transformed into a communal art form such as blues music. Blues music serves as a catalyst for change because the narrator starts to understand that not only the music but also himself and his relationship with Sonny. The narrator’s view of his brother begins to change; he understands that Sonny uses music as an exit of his suffering and pain. This story illustrates a wide critical examination. Richard N. Albert is one critic that explores and analyzes the world of “Sonny’s Blues”. His analysis, “The Jazz-Blues Motif in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s …show more content…
Perhaps his suffering is made even greater because this great, big block of ice just stays where it is. He can't get it out of his system. In the critical article, Albert notes, “When he hears of Sonny’s troubles with drugs and the law, he feels threatened” (Albert 179). As the story proceeds, the narrator is led to a personal awareness of human frailty through the death of his young daughter. Recalling how his mother sympathetically comforted his father when his father's brother was intentionally hit and killed by a car driven by a drunken white man, the narrator acts on his mother's request that he offer the same sympathy to Sonny in times of duress. Listening to Sonny's jazz solo at a bar in Greenwich Village, the narrator is led to an understanding of universal suffering and of his brother's attitudes. The narrator asks, “I said: "But there's no way not to suffer – is there, Sonny?" The narrator is resigned to suffering. He's just accepted it as part of the human condition. He witnesses Sonny in his element, playing the music that helps him remain whole and stay sane. Here, at the end of the story, the narrator finally begins to understand Sonny's struggle and how music helps him, and his audience, endure and perhaps even triumph over it. Albert notes, “As Sonny begins to play his blues in the last scene, he struggles with the music, which is indicative of

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