English 101LaToya Peoples
Sonny's Blues: Recurring theme of Good vs. Evil
Throughout James Baldwin's story Sonny's Blues, the neighborhood of Harlem is in a constant battle between good and evil. The narrator describes Sonny's encounters with evil, manifested in drugs and crime, as well as his assertive attempts at distancing himself from the darker side. The streets of Harlem are described as a harsh environment which claims the lives of many who have struggled against the constant enticement of emotional escape through drugs, and financial escape through crime. Sonny and his family along with the citizens of Harlem join the society fighting a war against evil at the personal level. We are introduced to Sonny's weapon against the pressures of life: Jazz. Baldwin presents jazz as a two-edged sword making a him capable of expressing emotions like nothing else, but also presenting the danger of the lifestyle it promotes.
Throughout the story, the reader follows Sonny's past and present brushes with evil, his triumphs, and his defeats. In Sonny's Blues, Baldwin uses metaphorical references, to focus on the perpetual war between good and evil.
Baldwin emphasizes the quickness at which Harlem residents fall to the pull of evil. Children are described as often turning "hard or evil or disrespectful, the way kids can, so quick, so quick, especially in Harlem" (Baldwin, 558). These children can be compared to soldiers in a war. "They were filled with rage. All they really knew were two darknesses, the darkness of their lives, which was now closing in on them, and the darkness of the movies, which had blinded them to that other darkness "(Baldwin 558). The students are at risk for the same fate which befell Sonny's uncle. The hit-and-run incident which killed him was one of the expected...