The story of the Sonny’s Blues opens when the narrator through the newspaper gets to know that sonny who is his younger brother had been arrested for heroin dealings. The narrator of the story takes a subway to his job of high school teaching. At the end of every school day, the laughter and of his students reminds him that, during their youth, Sonny and him had been were filled with rage and knew two ‘darknesses’. One of the concerned their lives while the other darkness concerned moves that were making them forgets their lives for a moment. When the narrator was coming from school, he met Sonny’s old friend in the school yard.
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When the two were talking about Sonny’s arrest, they end up telling some of their fears. When they were in front of a bar that played ‘black and bouncy’ kind of music, unnamed friend said, “Can’t much help old Sonny no more”(Baldwin, 1957). Just because of this statement, the narrator gets angry due to the fact that, even he himself had given up in the trials of saving his own brother Sonny. This was based on the fact that, he had not seen Sonny for a period of about a year. The narrator gets angered more because, his views and opinions about assisting his own brother are shared with some one who has no blood relation to Sonny. The friend continues stating that, “he thought Sonny was too smart to get caught in a drug bust,” (Baldwin, 1957).
The narrator then sarcastically criticizes the friend, in a manner that shows that the friend seemed to be much smarter because he has not been arrested. After a while, the friend answers that, according to him, she would have killed himself long time ago if he was smarter. This was because, according to him, compared to addiction, death I the best. The friend then turns to the story of how he has responsible turning Sonny onto drugs. This essay looks at “Sonny’s Blues,” and focuses on specific passages in that text, and explains how and why they create a feeling of imprisonment for the character(s).
The characters in ‘Sonny’s Blues ‘are mostly in circumstances that shows that they are trapped both physically as well as mentally. In the whole of the story, first and foremost, the narrator who happens to be Sonny’s elder brother and Sonny are arrested emotionally. This is based on the fact that, they are ever dealing with the ways that will make them free from one chain or the other. On the other hand, Sonny had been physically imprisoned in jail, apart from being imprisoned physically by drug addiction.
In addition to these points, the narrator himself has been confined to Harlem, and to be more specifically, to the projects that were dealing with housing, though he clearly detests. Another instance is that, the narrator has also been trapped by his own conscience. This is shown particularly in his actions and practices. To be more specific, he is not able to express his own minds or emotions. In Addition, he is not in a position to live up to his responsibilities as a brother; however, the death of his daughter freed him from this bondage by giving him a sense that motivates him to realize that he is supposed to change, (Baldwin, 1957).
The narrator in the story and Sonny in exactly opposite ways, are imprisoned and free at the same time. By the time Sonny was in Prison for example, he was physically locked up. But by looking on the other side of the coin however, one can realize that, other than being the young one, he had the capability of doing what his elder brother has never had such capabilities of doing. Some of his marvelous deeds were; he escaped from Harlem, and went a head creating his own life. But on the other side of the coin, also the narrator is free physically; this is based on the fact that, he was not in jail as compared to his young brother Sonny. Apart from that, unlike Sonny and other young men in their society, the narrator is also free as he has not been addicted to drugs.
All the same he is trapped inside Harlem along with its projects that deal with housing. Being a person who can be termed as a musician, Sonny has the capability of expressing his frustrations and rage that has been used as a driver in part of his imprisonment through music. By the time he is playing the piano, he gains the capability of breaking loose, which helps him to live as any other free person. The narrator of the story, on the other hand, lives his life that is trapped inside him himself. This is based on the fact that, he is always faced with a very difficult time when communicating with his brother Sonny, and even ends up fail in doing so, he lacks the capabilities of holding his own emotions that emanate as a result of their communication. However, in the end, ends up being freed temporarily as an effect off Sonny’s Music, this is based on the fact that, Sonny’s music has the ability to offer him with a very rare glimpse to himself.
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Both the narrator and Sonny the major characters in the story of ‘Sonny’s Blues’ are imprisoned in darkness. This is because, in their lives, light and darkness are in constant tension in the entire story of ‘Sonny’s Blues’. As a matter of fact, the characters are threatened by constant opposition of light and darkness. Darkness represents a list of both social and personal problems. It is true that the figures in the story are imprisoned by darkness. Sonny is faced with addiction problem, which can be considered as a personal problem, while the narrator is faced with the problems of housing projects.
Apart from characters, the story itself seems to be narrated in a setting that has been imprisoned. This is based on the reason that, the actions of the story seem to happen before the civil rights movements were gained. The setting is imprisoned in dark days that were filled with a lot of segregation and separate. However, the setting was free from equal accommodations in most public institutions. For instances, it is noticed that, the narrator and his brother Sonny grew up in a predominantly poor and black neighborhood of Harlem “the sons of a working-class, embittered father whose pride and optimism have been worn down by his own brother’s violent death at the hands of rural Southern whites and the ensuing years of struggling to support a family in an overtly racist Northern urban community” (Baldwin, 1957).The setting is imprisoned with lots of insecurity. This is because; everyone was subjected to violence and drug addiction, segregation as well as discrimination.
Inclusion, imprisonment as a theme in the story of ‘Sony’s Blues,’ is brought up with the aim of gloom, despair, hope and warmth that the lives of characters in the story undergoes. Being free from imprisonment shows all hopeful and positive that are just part of life. It represents moral life in the society. On the other hand, imprisonment shows despair and gloomy life that main figures in the story undergoes through. The two have been used to symbolize that, at times, life is too hard and enjoyable, while there are times when it is opposite. So as a matter of fact, the identification of imprisonment situations, was based on situations that characters have found themselves in, but the situation is of despair, and there is no way of getting out of it, there is no or little control over it.
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