Sonny's Blues - Reaction essay

Essay by rfwatersCollege, UndergraduateA-, April 2004

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Sonny's Blues

Sonny's blues is a short story written by James Baldwin. James was born in 1924 in Harlem in the neighborhoods of New York City. The fact James intermingles his own experience with Harlem into the short story gives this story life. Sonny's brother, whose name is never mentioned, tells the story in first person point-of-view.

The narrator begins with the event of his brother getting caught in a raid for using heroin. And for that the narrator was even further divided from his brother. It had been a year since he had seen Sonny and after Sonny was busted it took even longer for each to reconcile. The detail is one of the effects in the short story that brings pictures to my mind. I can see the narrator sitting in his "classes algebra," and I can hear what is going on all around him. James does very well with imagery in his short stories.

Another effect I liked was the way Baldwin used feeling. In the beginning he states a block of ice is sitting in the bottom of his stomach, I can imagine the way he might feel, the emotion he must be going through is not very hard to imagine. I myself have had friends become victims of drugs, but in this case the victim was the narrators brother, his own family. The fight with drugs is an unsympathetic one. For both the narrator and for Sonny, drugs had hit a soft spot. And with the narrator not talking to his brother for such a long time there was no chance of preventing Sonny's substance abuse. It was something they both had to deal with in there own way. For Sonny the help was rehab (or jail), and for the narrator it was seclusion...