Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sonny's Blues

Sonny's Blues was a great story written by James Baldwin. In the story, Sonny is thrown in jail for using drugs, which brings great shame to his brother. From then on, his brother has an internal conflict about how he feels toward the situation. Baldwin does a great job of using metaphors to help emphasize his points. One interesting thing about the story was the metaphorical use of "ice" throughout the story. The ice refers to the tension and conflict that both Sonny and his brother deal with internally. Baldwin uses the ice metaphor when referring to Sonny's brother, who is a high school teacher. While teaching in class one day, he was listening to his students laughter, which he called "mocking and derisive", and became uncontrollably frustrated. He felt all of these emotions at once, and hense a block of ice was forming inside of him. He did not express his feelings or emotions to anyone. As a matter of fact, the only form of expression was his profuse sweating which represented his internal ice block melting. Sonny was a struggling musician who wanted to use music as a voice and to express his feelings. Music was also suppose to help Sonny deal with the death of his mother. However, when that did not work out, he resorted to using drugs and getting high.

This story was written brilliantly and at a time where racism was still very prevalent, this story was embraced by the black community as they could relate to using music to help them deal with their hardships. I would even argue that "Sonny's Blues" is still relevant to the black community. Although racism may not be as prevalent as it was when the story was first written, the hardships experienced by Sonny and his brother in the book are experienced by many other African Americans around the world today. And as was the case with Sonny, music is still used as a form of self-expression and as a voice for people who feel oppressed, or simply s a coping mechanism for those experiencing hardships.

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