Sonny’s Blues Essay
The story, ‘Sonny’s blues’ qualifies as an authentic narrative based on its style of narration. The story is a first-person narration. The author is also the narrator and Sonny’s elder brother. Apparently, Sonny suffers from drug addiction leading to his arrest. This makes him take time in jail. The narrator begins by describing the scenario that led to Sonny’s arrest in a drug raid. As a result, he experiences sorrow and guilt over the situation. Sonny’s childhood friend shares the same feelings with the narrator and considers himself responsible for the addiction and ensuing arrest of Sonny. The authenticity of the narration is evident when both the narrator and Sonny’s brother are at pains understanding and explaining his addiction (Baldwin 11).
The first contact between the narrator and Sonny is evident when his daughter died of polio. Sonny expresses intense remorse and explains his change of lifestyle that led to an addiction to heroin. He further explains the reasons behind his addiction and expresses concern about his life after prison. The authenticity of the play is also evident when the narrator revisits some particular scenes of their lives during their adulthood. From the three flashback scenes, the narration offers a historical perspective of Sonny’s later turn of events. A reader learns that Sonny and the narrator’s uncle were alcoholics. This culminated in their demise. After the demise of their mother, Sonny lives with the narrator’s fiancée but faces contradictory lifestyles and values. This is attributable to his love for music and relation to musicians who likely introduced him to heroin. His state of drug addiction subsequently impairs the relationship between him and the narrator. From these flashbacks, readers clearly see the deteriorating relationship between the two brothers and the futile efforts to repair it. The narrator does not seem to understand Sonny’s passion for music until Sonny invites him to a nightclub where he performs. The narrator later learns that music helps Sonny endure and triumph over his problems.
The settings of the events in the story also make the narration authentic. Readers recognize that the brothers grew up in Harlem during the 1950s. Around this period, Harlem was a region characterized by extreme forms of segregation and racism against the blacks. As the narrator’s mother describes, Harlem was unsafe to bring up children. She retorts, “Safe, hell! Ain’t no place safe for kids, nor nobody” (Baldwin 54). Violence and drugs threaten many black neighborhoods. The narrator is worried about this surrounding and its effects on the upbringing of children especially the boy child.
The author of this story, James Baldwin experienced rejection from the stepfather, David Baldwin who never appreciated his intelligence, talent, and obedience. He felt unloved and neglected. He compares himself to the Biblical Ishmael, the son of Abraham who was illegitimate as apparent in Genesis 21(Jones 1). This experience encouraged him to address the ills of alienation in black society. The author went to school at the Harlem Renaissance where he directly interacted with the violence and drug addiction among the youths in the neighborhood. This situation formed the idea for writing the ‘Sunny blues’. (Jazz and Literature Unit 1)
Works Cited Baldwin, James. Sonnys Blues: Lektüren Englisch. New York: Klett Ernst /Schulbuch, 2009. Print Jazz and Literature Unit. “Class Lectures on Sunny Blues.”. Jazz and Literature Unit. n.d. web. 15th November 2012 http://cai.ucdavis.edu/uccp/sblecture.html The New Jerusalem Bible. Ed. Susan Jones. New York: Doubleday, 1985. Print.