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Character Analysis in Sonnys Blues by James Baldwin


Sonnys Blues by James Baldwin tells about a jazz musician, Sonny who becomes a heroin addict is arrested for selling and using drugs and returns to his teenage home after his release from prison alongside his older brother who is the narrator and his brother’s family. In the story, I identify with the narrator more than sonny.
The reason why I identify with the narrator of the story is that he provides insights into the life of Sonny, their lives together and the environment. The narrator, despite not being invoked in the title, it is through his eyes that Harlem and Sonny are revealed. Unlike most of the men in society, the narrator has a steady job and family. He can be said to have succeeded. The narrator is a teacher with a wife and two children. Unlike Sonny, he does not concern himself with drugs although he is aware of them in Harlem. In this part, I empathize with him since he keeps away from danger. In numerous ways, the narrator acts as the voice of reason in the entire story. He tries to insight Sonny to think about his life and future which shows that he is a compassionate man. Though he does not understand Sonny or his passion for music, he considers Sonnys best interests at heart. Deep down, we tend to think he is a desirable upstanding guy. Because of his kindness and cautiousness, I connect with him more than Sonny.

The aspect of race affects Sonny. Since he was young, Sonny has been haunted by the burden of being black and being trapped within the confines of society. He is aware of the obstacles and limits he faces as a young American male born in Harlem. The stereotype related to race forces him to move away from Harlem and began a musical career elsewhere. We might also apply the imageries of light and darkness in terms of race and the historical setting of the story. The narrator denotes his own students as the “darkness of their lives” (Baldwin 48) the narrator and Sonny’s experience of racism had an impact on each in a different way. The narrator taught algebra, and Sonny is arrested for drug use. The point of being impacted by racism may influence a person.
In conclusion, the narrator in the short story highlights the life of drugs, poverty, and racism. I identify with the narrator more than Sonny because of his goodness and cautiousness. Both main characters are affected by racism, but Sonny is affected the most that he moves away from his hometown and start a music career in another place.

Works cited
Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” Going To Meet The Man. 1st ed. New York: Dial Press, 1965.

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