Creation Of A Bond Between Two Unique Brothers

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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There comes a time in a person's life that something significant happens that changes his/her life forever. Sometimes that occurrence isn't a big event. All it takes is one moment of silence to notice it. The narrator in "Sonny's Blues" experiences many moments in this story. He goes through a series of changes from the beginning of the story to the end that ultimately has an impact in the transformation that occurs in his life. In the beginning of the story he does not understand and disagrees with the lifestyle his brother chooses. Through different events that occur in his life, he learns to accept his brother despite their difference in opinion.

The narrator at the beginning of the story is an outsider in Sonny's life and shows no attempt to understand him or become part of his life. The narrator tells his mother "Don't you worry, I won't forget.

I won't let nothing happened to Sonny" (line 142). Yet in his attempt to keep his promise made to his mother he tries to be a fatherly figure to his younger brother. Instead, he ends up creating a barrier between his brother and him. He can't understand Sonny's passion for music and makes no effort to understand. The narrator says, " I gave up. I decided, if he didn't change his mind that we could always talk about it later" (line 534). He only sees what he wants for Sonny and not what Sonny wants. When Sonny makes an effort to explain to him why he wants to become a musician he only receives a negative response from his brother. The narrator asks Sonny " Do you hear me?" Sonny responds " I hear you. But you never hear anything I say" (line 590). Through these words, Sonny tries to let his brother know that he needs to stop and listen sometimes. The narrator goes to look for Sonny at his apartment were he finds himself with a mob of strangers. The narrator talks to Sonny yet, ends up arguing with him. Instead of attempting to clear things up the narrator walks away, " I started to go down the steps, whistling to keep from crying, I kept whistling to myself, you going to need me, baby, one of these cold, rainy days" (line 677). He is too proud and makes no attempt to understand Sonny's life style. He thinks that the day will come when Sonny will need him and will come looking for him. The narrator shows no attempt to give in to Sonny by putting his pride aside, instead he decides to walk out of Sonny's life failing to keep his promise to his mother.

At the end of the story the narrator makes an effort to understand Sonny and regrets not being " there" for him. When Sonny gets out of rehab his brother changes with him. He tries to give him support in any way possible. He offers his home and moral support. He wanted to change and therefore he states "I wanted to promise that I would never fail him again"(Line 855). He felt responsible in some way about Sonny's addiction to drugs, yet this time he was willing to listen and create a bond with his brother. He wanted to help Sonny climb out of that "real deep and funky hole" so that he could see the sun shine in his face once again. The narrator further explains " and something told me that I should curb my tongue, that Sonny was doing the best to talk, that I should listen" (line 811). For the first time Sonny's brother realizes that he must listen to Sonny in order to understand him. He attempts to just keep quite and let Sonny slowly open up to him yet, this also helps him realize that his brother has a different perspectives than him on life.

The change in the narrator's views from beginning to the end of the story begins to show. He goes from being a stranger in Sonny life to being his understanding brother. Sonny says, " it can come again" (line 906). By this Sonny shows, that even though he has gone through many painful experiences he and his brother can still go back and have the relationship they always wanted. The narrator begins to realize that it is not too late to try and understand Sonny and accept him for who he is. The minute Sonny makes this statement; his brother also realizes where he went wrong with Sonny before. He wasn't supposed to be responsible for controlling Sonny's life. Just to watch over and being "there" for him.

The narrator begins his long drastic transformation when his daughter Gracie dies since this made him come to the conclusion that his brother was also feeling pain. The narrator states "my trouble made his real". The narrator needed to go through something very emotional that would cause him to understand the pain that his brother was going through. When his daughter dies he realizes that he needs his brother as much as his brother needed him to go through this long process of healing. He looks for his brother and for the first time realizes a lot of things that he had not noticed just by simply listening. He notices thing in his own neighborhood when he observes out his window one day. The narrator says, " it was strange suddenly, to watch though I had been seeing these street meetings all my life. So, Of course, had everybody else down there. Yet, they paused and watches and listened and I stood still at the window" (Line 728). He stops and listens. This helps him see things that he had never seen before. For the narrator he notices the women in the corner singing and all the pain they reflect through their music. When Sonny asks his brother to go listen to him play at the club his brother tells him that he will go. This is one event completed his transformation. The narrator listens to Sonny play and states " Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us to be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did" (Line 1048). Finally Sonny and his brother make a connection through music. The narrator gains a better understanding of his brother through his music. Sonny had finally been freed by being able to share the deepness that music brought to him with his brother. Through the music all the pain that they had felt like the death of Gracie and Sonny's addiction came out. For once the narrator really gets into Sonny's world and in return Sonny's brother comes to an understanding. Sonny's Blues makes the final connection between the two different painful experiences that each one goes through, that some how created a bond between these two opposite brothers.

James Baldwin writes this short story to teach his readers a lesson that could help us in life. Baldwin emphasizes that we must "listen". By listening we can understand people. The narrator discovers so many things just by simply listening. That moment of silence could explain so many things and open our eyes letting us notice things around us that we had never seen before. In the novel listening helps the narrator understand his brother and create a long lasting bond between them. "Sonny's Blues" also lets us discover a unique relationship between two brothers who are complete opposite, but some how help each other out through their painful moments.