Choices and Views A View on Cancelling in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

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Choices and Views: A View on Cancelling in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

“Sonny’s Blues” is a story written in 1957 by James Baldwin. “Sonny’s Blues” occurs in Harlem, New York, in the 1950s. Some of the key characters in the story include Sonny, the Narrator’s brother; Isabel, the Narrator’s wife, the Narrator, who is Sonny’s elder brother and the father, who is the father to Sonny and the Narrator. The main character in “Sonny’s Blues” is Sonny, as the story mainly revolves around him. The short story starts with Sonny as a drug addict who cannot change, but as the plot continues, Sonny becomes a sober person, shifting your attitude towards him from negative to positive. “Sonny’s Blues” is a must-read for anyone who enjoys reading about the effects of drugs in the community as they learn more about the effects of drugs from Sonny’s experiences.

The author James Baldwin

The basic plot of “Sonny’s Blues” is about a black algebra teacher who reads about his brother’s arrest in the newspaper due to using and selling heroin. He cannot imagine that what he is reading is accurate. Sonny’s brother starts to reflect on the times he had spent together with Sonny, and the rest of the story builds from this reflection. A first-person narrator narrates the story, and this is Sonny’s brother. The Narrator says, “I told myself that Sonny was wild,but he wasn’t crazy” (Baldwin 1). The Narrator creates the image that Sonny was a restless person, but he was indeed not insane.

Sonny is faced with personal dilemmas as he tries to avoid going back to drug abuse, and he does not come to terms with most characters in the story as they differ views and opinions hence creating conflict. There is a conflict between Sonny and the Narrator regarding Sonny’s desire to become a jazz musician. According to him, jazz musicians are the best as they are incredible. Sonny says that he has always placed jazz musicians in the category of people referred to as ‘good time people’ by his father (Baldwin 12). However, the Narrator disagrees with his opinion as he thinks becoming a jazz musician is a waste of time. The Narrator says to Sonny, “You’ll have to be patient with me. Now. Who’s this Parker character?” to mock one of Sonny’s most excellent jazz musicians, which makes Sonny angry (Baldwin 13). A conflict, therefore, develops between them. Sonny is faced with a dilemma on whether to continue his music career after being released from prison. He has a great chance of becoming successful with his music, but at the same time, making music might influence him to go back to using drugs (Baldwin 20). From the above examples, we see how Sony is faced with conflicts and dilemmas during the story.

The story’s climax is seen later in the story after Sonny has been released from prison and is now living in his brother’s apartment. Sonny and the Narrator engage in a furious argument over Sonny’s drug use. The Narrator does not understand why Sonny has to use drugs, but Sonny tries to explain to him that no one usually wishes to start using drugs. ” But nobody just takes it,” Sonny cried, “that’s what I’m telling you! Everybody tries not to. You’re just hung up on the way some people try-it’s not your way!” (Baldwin 20). The story’s climax is set when the two brothers witness a scene at a revival meeting. The revival was being conducted by sisters who only had bibles. After the revival, we see Sonny and his brother getting along well. Sonny even buys his brother a beer (Baldwin 19). The Narrator says, “I realized, with this mocking look, that there stood between us, forever, beyond the power of time and forgiveness’ the fact that I had held silence-so long when he had needed human speech to help him (Baldwin 20). This statement indicates the story’s epiphany as the Narrator has finally realized that instead of ridiculing Sonny, he should have concentrated more on giving hum human comfort.

From the story, we see that Sonny has dramatically improved in terms of his character and views. At the beginning of the story, he is portrayed as someone who is reluctant and does not listen to advice, but finally, we see him come to terms with his brother. Finally, the title clearly shows that Sonny is a passionate musician as the term “blues” is a type of sad music invented by black Americans in the 1940s. The life lesson readers should learn from this story is that one should not only focus on how he views the perspectives of life but should be ready to listen to other people’s views. The best audience for this story would be people struggling with drug abuse as they learn a lot from Sonny’s mistakes that affect his life after he starts using drugs. The message they should come with from this text is that drug abuse does not pay.

Works Cited

“Sonny’s Blues.” 323online, Accessed 14 Apr. 2022.

“James Baldwin Photo.” Flickr, 2003,

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