Sonny's Blues

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade March 2001

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In James Baldwin's " Sonny's Blues, "� Sonny says he believes there is no way to avoid suffering . Some people in this world try to avoid suffering by taking vacations; others commune with nature; some even pedal themselves away from suffering by riding bicycles. The more desolate souls try alcohol or drugs to temporarily tame their suffering. It would seem that for all of the pleasure we create for ourselves, we also receive that much pain. After the long relaxing vacation, the traveler comes home to find the bills pilled up just beneath the mail slot, and the lonely business man who has a few drinks after work to calm his nerves is arrested for driving under the influence. Such tradeoffs occur everyday in our society from the top ranking executive in a major corporation, who compromises his morals daily in order to keep the profit margin high, down to the most lowly crack dealer who poisons his brother in order to have the basic necessities of living.

We spend our lives desperately trying to attain the immediate creature comforts knowing that our pursuit of pleasure in this life may deprive us of our salvation in the next. Thus emphasis on dualities in "Sonny's Blues"� sermonizes to the reader Baldwin's belief that salvation from this suffering can only be attained by embracing the contradictions in life The story begins with Sonny's brother finding out Sonny has been busted the night before in a raid on a heroin dealers house. The brother speaks of how a great block of ice settled in his belly and stayed there all day slowly melting and sending trickles of water up and down his spine. This image, which he opens up with, of the brother retaining a huge block of ice...