Sonny's Blues

In: English and Literature

Submitted By MLacomb13
Words 1062
Pages 5
Corey LaComb
Professor Thomas
ENC 1102
April 13, 2014
Music and Salvation
Written by James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues” revolves around Sonny, a drug addict Jazz enthusiast and his unnamed brother, the narrator, who teaches algebra in Harlem. While the brothers are at two very different stages in their life, they both are struggling to find salvation and “reinvent their brotherhood in spite of the otherwise bleak environment of drug use, violence, and disenfranchisement in which they live” (Duncan). Throughout the story Jazz music plays a major role. While the brothers have different feelings about Jazz music it is ultimately the music with helps the brothers to salvage their relationship and find the salvation that they have been looking for.
At the beginning of “Sonny’s Blues” both brothers are trapped – both physically and emotionally. Sonny is literally imprisoned while in jail. He is also confined by his drug addiction, which is the reason he is in jail in the first place. The narrator, on the other hand, is not confined in jail or addicted to drugs. He has more physical freedom than does Sonny but yet he is still trapped. He is stuck inside of Harlem and he is trapped inside of the housing projects he lives. He became an algebra teacher to try to make a better life for his family and yet still he is trapped inside of these run down houses, the “rocks in the middle of a boiling sea” (Sonny’s Blues, pg. 7), and this bothers him. Emotionally, Sonny’s brother is trapped inside of himself. He has a “selfish desire to assimilate and lead a ‘respectable,’ safe life” (Albert 1). He is so worried about himself and the fact that he, unlike Sonny, was not able to escape from Harlem that he is unable to express his emotions and unable to communicate with his own brother. When he hears about Sonny’s arrest, he doesn’t “write Sonny or send him anything for a long time”…...

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