"Sonny's Blues" written by James Baldwin.

Essay by nns25High School, 12th grade September 2003

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"Sonny's Blues" written by James Baldwin is a story that deals with very real aspects of society and is done so through the use of symbolism and imagery. The story is craftfully written, using lightness and darkness as symbols through out the entire story. Baldwin focuses "Sonny's Blues" on the character of Sonny who is continuously struggling to find what makes him happy. Ultimately, Sonny finds two escapes, one of them being fatal: drug abuse and music.

Baldwin opens the story at the school where Sonny's older brother (the speaker) works as a teacher. He reflects on what happened to his brother as he watches the boys in the schoolyard.

"...here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys who might, everyone of them for all I knew, be popping off needles every time they went to the head. Maybe it did more for them than algebra could...These

boys, now were living as we'd been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities. 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, and in which they now, vindictively, dreamed, at once more together than they were at any other time, and more alone" (Baldwin, 110).

This quote describes not only how unaware the speaker felt about the youth abusing drugs, but also describes their lives using the term darkness. Darkness symbolizes all of the hardships that the boys are faced with which is masked by the movies and media making life look easy. The term darkness plainly has a negative connotation...