A Brother's Perception

Essay by flemrodCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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In "Sonny's Blues", Sonny is the narrator's brother who has just been released from jail for using and distributing heroin. His brother, the narrator, holds a position as a math teacher at a school near his house where he lives with his wife and children. He is someone who has led an honorable life and "escaped Harlem" (86) in a respectable manner. Later in the story, Sonny's brother looks back a few years earlier. In those days, the narrator perceived himself as the older brother who needed to watch out for and guide Sonny whether it was in Sonny's best interest or not. He thought that since he is the big brother, he knows what is best for Sonny more than Sonny does. This perception of himself makes him perceive Sonny as a misdirected and immature boy who needs to start "[being] serious" (91) about his life, follow the narrator's command, and find direction.

Sonny's brother, like all brothers, was very protective of Sonny and cared very much for him. He doesn't want Sonny getting mixed in with the darkness of Harlem. Sonny and the narrator got into arguments regularly because he didn't like the decisions Sonny made. The narrator felt like a father figure to Sonny because their father was dead. Narrator said, "When [Sonny] started to walk, he walked from our mother straight to me. I caught him just before he fell when he took the first steps he ever took in this world" (85). He was worried about his brother because of the story his mother told him. She told the story of his father's brother that Sonny and the narrator never knew about. One night when his father and uncle were drinking, and they were going down a hill the lead the road. His...