Essay Sample on the Theme of Family Relationship in the Story "Sonny's Blues"

Published: 2023-01-06
Essay Sample on the Theme of Family Relationship in the Story "Sonny's Blues"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Relationship Community Drug abuse American literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1441 words
13 min read

The short story "Sonny Blues" by "James Baldwin" unravels the kinds of menace that pry on the African-American communities. The author tells about his brother who is imprisoned and how he perceives of the children in the neighborhood. One the central point that is clear in this text is the issue of inescapable darkness. Baldwin uses darkness through the story to bring out the idea of how African Americans face many challenges and difficulties in their lives. It also points out the squalid and unchanging nature of the situation in the streets. The children in these communities have limited opportunities in their lives, and many end up indulging in either crime or drug use (Bieganowski Pp.68).

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The family unit arguably plays a critical role in every stage of an individual's development. Indeed, the parental figure represents a prodigious influence on the growth, development, and maturity of a child. However, the interaction of siblings can be significant. Besides, it is imperative to understand that the family plays an essential role in all societies and culture. Also, love within the family directly results in happiness. The "Sonny's Blues" story by James Baldwin discusses the theme of family relationship from both the perspective of both happy and unhappy families. The main three pieces of literature in the short story "Sonny's Blues" that discusses the theme of family relationships are Daddy, sonny blues as well as the ongoing home. This essay discusses the theme of family relationship in the "Sonny's Blues" a short story by James Baldwin.

Family plays an essential role in all societies and culture and also creates love within the family that directly results in happiness. James Baldwin establishes a family with his wife and children (this is more of the outmoded family (Baldwin 132). Sonny establishes a family relationship with fellow musician counterparts. In this case, Sony surrounds himself with individuals who loved similar things as himself. However, the same individuals whom he establishes a family relationship with influence him negatively thus making him indulge into drug and substance abuse.

Many of the children have become drug users just like Sonny was. This means that the opportunities that are available to the kids are minimal and most follow what they watch on TV screens which have resulted in what the author calls 'darkness.' Again, there is little improvement or change in the communities. The author points out that "... houses exactly like the houses of our past yet dominated the landscape, boys exactly like the boys we once had been found themselves smothering in these houses, came down into the streets for light and air, and found themselves encircled by disaster." Such signifies the poor economic progress of the community hence the 'darkness.'

James Baldwin in the text "Sonny's Blue" asks the question on how much do members of family owe one another, and he explores the fallout especially when domestic compassionate and obligations are not fully met (Baldwin 139). For instance, the narrator fails to live up to the promise which he made to his mother that he will always be there for Sonny. The narrator demonstrates how is important is the family relationship. For instance, the author argues that for a family to stay happy, there should be a strong bond between the parents and children. This is because the tie between parents and child is considered as the most crucial relationship in every person's life and that it can bring a lot of happiness in the family setup. Parents usually teach and guide their children throughout their entire life and also represent a definitive example of what family relationship should be like.

Besides, "Sonny's Blues" short stories by James Baldwin's provide us with a deep understanding of family friendship and loss through the exploration of various aspects. Family relationship is significant as it allows members to understand the suffering and needs of each other well. For instance, when Sonny invited his brother to listen to him play music after the street revival, Sonny was capable of understanding his own needs, as well as the suffering of his brother since someone's suffering, reflects his own, thus making him to confess and share his own pain and suffering through his music which is the mirror of the man's soul. James Baldwin in the "Sonny's Blues" text shares his connection with his brother (Baldwin 134). The narrator and his brother Sonny maintain a forced relationship, one which the narrator was obligated to take care of his little brother. Their true relationship does not develop between the two brothers until when their mother passes on, and the only thing which bonded their relationship is the siblings' duty. The narrator identifies his relationship with his little brother and "wonders whether the difference in their ages would act as a bridge" (Baldwin 499).

In the text Sonny's Blues, the narrator asks how much the members of family owe to one another, and he tends to examine the upshot especially when empathy fails, and compulsions are only lackadaisically met. The most straightforward example of this scene is when the narrator fails to keep his mother's promise that he will always be there for his little brother Sonny. In another case where obligations were not halfheartedly met is when the wife of the narrator family takes in Sonny who was an orphan. However, it is apparent that they took care of Sonny is because it was only the appropriate way by not because of empathy they had on the predicament facing Sonny. These instances of indifference in the familial, compounded problems facing Sonny thus fueling his despondency showing that power in the family could cause harm. The cruelty and apathy in the family propel the overall plot of the short story "Sonny Blues" the narrator tends to resolve the story by examining how much more intricate family concerns is that they appear. Baldwin argues that obligations in the family can be mutually rewarding if they are met with compassion. According to the narrator, the family relationship is established on empathy that emerges when Sonny moved into the narrator's family. Initially, the narrator believed that he was told to take care of his little brother since he was financially stable; he thought that he had something to give to the narrator. As the story continues, however, and Baldwin becomes more open-minded to understanding and recognizing in Sonny is, the narrator also starts to absolve himself of the guilt by failing the promise of his mother to take care of Sonny. Also, the music of Sonny becomes the antidote to the unpleasantness and ineptness which the narrator feels. Both sonny and narrator need each other- sonny requires empathy and a place to dwell, while narrators require an individual who is striving for joy despite all the suffering they are facing. The bond between Sonny and the narrator is Symbiotic.

Besides, the narrator maintains his position in his family lineage and cares for his little brother Sonny Unconditionally. In this case, he tries to remember several scenarios that took place during their young adulthood. In one of the scenes, he recalls her mother asking him to take care of his little brother Sonny and ensure that he was secure after she dies (Baldwin 123). In this case, it is clear that family relationships are crucial as members can understand the needs and suffering of each other. The mother of the narrator was able to see the extent of his husband's pain and that of Sonny. The "Sonny's Blues" story views that family relationships and duties as upfront and even transactional (Shannon). This is because it not only brings compassion to the family members but also surprising rewards such as relief to a family member who is facing intractable suffering.

The family relationship theme connects well with Jimmy Songs that were being listened by James Baldwin. In this case, the narrator who was ignorant and suspicious of Sonny songs finally agrees to listen to them. This is because he believed that music was an essential means of communicating shared experiences. Jimmy Songs strengthened the fraternal bond between brothers thus establishing solidarity between family members.

In conclusion, the family plays an essential role in all societies and culture. Also, love within the family directly results in happiness. The narrator of the story feels so united with his little brother Sonny, by inference, with all the humankind in shared distresses.

Work cited

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

Bieganowski, Ronald. "JAMES BALDWIN'S VISION OF OTHERNESS IN" SONNY'S BLUES" AND" GIOVANNI'S ROOM."" CLA Journal 32.1 (2001): 69-80.

Shannon, Janet Harrison. "Family and community secrets: Secrecy in the works of James Baldwin." Western Journal of Black Studies 22.3 (2004): 174.

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