Literary Essay Sample: Setting Analysis on Sonny's Blues Story

Published: 2022-04-14
Literary Essay Sample: Setting Analysis on Sonny's Blues Story
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  American literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 976 words
9 min read

Sonny's Blues is a story that has focused on the life of a young boy in his plight of identifying who he is. The setting of the story has both a nostalgic-reality state of nature. Sonny's dream was to become a jazz musician, but in his road to achieving the desired goal, tragic aspects succumb to him, one that he will entirely live with for the rest of his life. He joined the military but later on got arrested for selling heroin. The author used imagery to aid in connecting the target audience to the life of Sonny. This paper seeks to analyze the setting of Sonny Blue's story by James Baldwin.

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The setting of the story starts in the morning as the author's brother was leaving for high school classes. It seemed hard for him to come to terms with the tragic event that had happen to him, his brother had just been arrested, having read from the newspaper. Furthermore, the entire part of the day, he spends his time thinking about Sonny, knowing in mind that he knew him of being wild but not crazy (Baldwin 123). On his way back home from school, on a subway train, is when all these nostalgic events meet him. A sense of guilt spirals in him, where had he gone wrong?

The author uses the skill of imagery to connect the emotions. The sense of touch has been brought efficiently out when the narrator tries to express his home. It looks like a parody of the good that is clean and of a faceless life (Baldwin 129). The use of ice as an imagery in the story was in bid to display fear. The narrator can bring the sense of taste, the ice melted down my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long, expressing the shock following Sonny's arrest. The moonlight brings the essence of sight. The narrator told a story about the view of the moonlight by his mother on the night his father's brother died.

One of the constant thematic flows is suffering (Teran 1). The narrator narrates the suffering he has been going through ever since the death of his daughter, Gracie, to his mother's death, to his uncle's death and his brother's arrest. He feels that he was unable to protect his brother, he failed to fulfill the promise he had made to his mother before she died of taking care of Sonny. For Sonny, he expresses his escape from suffering through his music. It is through suffering that the narrator experiences a sense of compassion for not only his brother Sonny but also his wife and late father.

Sonny blues story is about pain, suffering, and anger. The narrator is lost, at the beginning of the story, and disconnected from his own family (Teran 1). He is an army-personnel constantly on deployments. He fails to understand his brother, his dreams, and goals. It is through the pain of losing his daughter that makes him turn to his brother. A sense of guilt spirals up for him as he failed to protect his son once but he is now determined to help his brother, support him owning up to the promise he made to his late mother. He slowly builds up communication with his brother, and after his release from imprisonment, he allows him to his house. It is here that he gets to understand his brother and accepts the life he chose.

Racism and discrimination have been highlighted in the story. A lot of discrimination is experienced by being of the black descent. One of the instances brought out was the narrator's uncle death. He was knocked over by a car driven by drunken white men. He did not even stop to try and help him over; left him in a pool of his blood, leaving him for the death (Wilner). This act hurt the narrator's father who regularly had an emotional breakdown when he remembered the death of his brother. Furthermore, the neighborhood around Harlem was not pleasant. It showed the results of the segregation in housing policies for the black community.

The setting of the place tried to analyze the life of a Black-American individual. The community is based on a location of extreme poverty. This instance leads to the young generation growing into the abuse of drugs as a way to escape their suffering. It is through drugs that they find a purpose. The narrator takes us down his life. The pains he experienced and his redemption. The author tries to bring a connection of pain and how to overcome it. He teaches us that it is through overcoming our daily life challenges that we can be able to learn from our mistakes and grow into becoming a better people. He explains the plight of a Black-American man; as it is through him, he can see his life in it. A reflection of how he had to overcome all his sufferings to make it in life (Baldwin 122).

In conclusion, Sonny`s Blues story by James Baldwim has used imagery to appeal to the senses in passing the intended message. The story also has been set in the morning hours to take the readers through the daily life and the activities of the narrator to understand the story better. The themes of suffering and pain have also been well used in the story to pass the message to the readers, showing us the problems and challenges the author faces in their social context. Therefore, all these aspects have been internalized well to help pass the message and a lesson to the readers, appealing to both their senses and their emotions.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. Sonny's blues. Ernst Klett Sprachen, 2009.

Teran, Adriana. Suduiko, Aaron ed. "Sonny's Blues Themes". GradeSaver, 19 May 2015 Web. 29 March 2018.

Wilner, Arlene. "Confronting Resistance: Sonny's Blues-and Mine. "Pedagogy 2.2 (2002): 173-196.

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