Essay title: Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin, a Narrative View
The oldest brother in the family has strong values but can’t understand how his brother could get himself into so much trouble like this. He explains in the story that he and his family were trying so hard to be a model middle-class family in the Harlem 1950’s. The brother, Sonny, had just returned from the military and didn’t seem to be much of a hero, more of a rebel, kind of like he stuck out to the family.
He starts to get into things that his family would never imagine him doing, drugs and trouble. “I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it, and couldn’t believe it, and I read it again. Then perhaps I just stared at it, at the newsprint spelling out his name, spelling out the story. I stared at it in the swinging of the subway car, and in the faces and bodies of the people, and in my own face, trapped in the darkness which roared outside.” ( 53) Relating back to the narrator’s values, he seems to have become a very upstanding gentleman.
He wants to be the successful man and only wants the best for himself and his family. To tie in with the title, you also see that his daughter Grace has died. This relates to the Blues because it shows sorrow in death and the name of the daughter signifies that there could possibly be some hopes in helping his brother get out of his addiction. He is deeply concerned when he reads an article about his brother on the front page of the paper explaining to the subscriber that someone was arrested for drugs. The narrator tries not to let the trouble his brother gets himself into bother him up until his brother was arrested. He started to think that maybe he should put himself in his brother’s shoes and realize that maybe being this way is harder than he thought; sometimes it’s not always easy to get out of a situation such as the one he’s in.
They would constantly fight when Sonny returned from the war, striking suspicion with what his, Sonny’s, lifestyle was really like. The narrator begins to realize that the music Sonny writes is an escape for him. This escape lets Sonny express his feelings and his anguish. There are also other factors as to why Sonny writes the blues: his parent’s sudden death, having been in jail, drug addiction, and the fact that a white man.