Sonny’s Blues takes place in Harlem, New York City’s former African American neighborhood. Despite the cultural revival known as the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, the group faced injustice in the 1950s, when Sonny’s Blues was released (Hartdegen 55-156). In the short tale, James Baldwin’s house plays an important part (Hartdegen 55-156). The plot centers around certain cultural aspects that are both broken and revered in society.
First, the narrator reveals the cultural element of the self-centered need to lead and assimilate a respectable, healthy life (Baldwin 178). He seeks to obey the white popular culture and alienates himself from his family and sections of African American experience. When he realizes his brothers sentence, he does not give compassion. He stays silence for long. Likewise, he is unacquainted to the contemporary African American culture, and he confesses to not knowing Charlie Parker. He even treats aspects of his cultural heritage with scorn: when he sees a barmaid dancing to a black and bouncy he is overcome with hatred (107).
Second, the narration portrays the cultural aspect of suffering and neglect (The darkness cultural issue). The darkness that threats Harlem is a sign of the suffering borne by the society. The narrator portrays the darkness as what his parents endure[d] and what he is ordained to experience (115). The darkness is distress, as Sonny explains to his brother, inescapable. Sonnys addiction, Graces death, and the murder of the narrators uncle all seem to support the assertion (Allison 75-101). The narrators redemption is only possible because of the suffering endured by his brother, community, and self, and his brothers ability to express that pain through music. Despite the writers epiphany, the ending of the Sonnys Blues is ambiguous. Deep in the redemption, the narrator denotes that trouble still stressed above [the brothers], wider than the sky (140). Sonnys tussle in the set may not only signify past struggles, but scuffles to come. As he reminds the brother, his habit could return.
Another aspect of cultures from the story is the systematic racism. The battered developments are the result of segregationist housing regulations; the limited opportunities to the narrators students are the product of discrimination. The suffering of the community is because of the racism (Allison 75-101). The narrator elucidates that he will inherit the darkness of the parents. The description of racism is apparent from the death of the narrators uncle. His violent death, being crushed by a car of drunken white men, perpetually traumatizes the narrators father and worries his mother that the same could befall Sonny.
The Scope of My Culture
My ethnicity is Salvadoran and Filipina, however, I take the Philippine side (the culture of mu mother). Contrary to the cultural aspect of selfish desire from the Sonnys Blues, Filipinos make friends quickly ( Hartdegen 55-156). They are hospitable and warm. For example, Filipinos can interact with peoples from other nations with ease since the population is multicultural. Also, Filipinos are family-oriented; they are permanently considering their family and origin. Most Filipinos have friends, family, and relatives working and or settled overseas. Unlike Sonnys Blues, characters, Filipinos are concerned and anxious to establish (casual) relations between their different family and relatives. The fear of disappointment is a critical motivating factor than in the case of Sonnys Blues, because of the penalties for failure, predominantly job loss, are more severe (Allison 75-101). However, the fear may enable colleagues to be conservative and cautious in taking on responsibilities or initiatives that either single them out from their colleagues or expose them to risk.
Also, there is significant loyalty among members of Philippine community, mainly female employees. In comparatively secure work settings, that generates effective teamwork and job gratification. Amongst most wage workers and the middle administration level, monetary compensation is more significant than job satisfaction or working settings. For those from the wealthiest families, levels of financial reward are critical. Even though the Philippines own and immediate family wants are covered, wider extended family responsibilities are likely to increase along with prospects of reward ( Hartdegen 55-156). Peripheral assistances, specifically disability and health, and other protection welfares and specifically transportation provided by the office are also major enticements that produce both good performance and loyalty. There is little government provided health or social benefits, so these fringe benefits reduce the risk of failure through factors that are beyond the employees control, as many workers cannot afford to live close to the major business districts.
The Experience of Sonny (Narrators Brother) And Relevance to in Real Life
The reporter of the story is an unmanned older brother of a misunderstood and misguided teen, Sonny. The narrator insists that Sonny should deliberate life credibly, and not to waste time on absurd ideas. Sonny, though, is free- spirited and only anticipates to be a musician (Allison 75-101). Since the reporter often rejects Sonny from attaining his musical dream, he turns to drugs to evade from his distresses. However, Sonny accepts his miseries and deals with them through music and drugs ( Hartdegen 55-156). The way the two brothers handle their sorrows causes them to disagree with each other; however, their incompatible sufferings allowed them to grow closer to each other.
Sonny tells the narrator to treat him as dead. Sonny feels neglected because of the lack of recognition and support from the brother (Allison 75-101). However, the narrator never felt developed anger at the brothers drug habit. Sonnys addiction to drugs causes him to validate his habit. He considers the drug addiction is what brands the music evocative. Sonnys confidence eventually breaks the affiliation between him and the narrator. The narrator is disappointed by Sonnys choice to abuse drugs. The narrator feels that drugs are only a tentative way of avoiding the life struggles. The narrator also believes that drugs will also cause the brothers death, and it will be a burden if he realizes that he was unable to save the brothers life.
The differences between Sonny and the narrator make it hard for them to apprehend each other, which cause their frustrations to boil inside (Allison 75-101). Sonnys Blues sets in the early 1950s, in Harlem. Sonny and the narrator grew up in a principally black and poor working class neighborhood. The socio- cultural setting in the narration submits that the Sonny and narrator struggled to support their family in a racist community (Allison 75-101). Sonny had particularly struggled the most, because of the lack of care from the household. He spins to drugs into the sport of the unjust and discriminatory environment of Harlem.
In real life, the artists expressed and abstract expressionism of individual liberty for the current social change. Sonny is much like the artists since he believes that his music can sway the agony in peoples hearts from the injustices of discrimination. The brothers military service also contributes a significant part in the socio-cultural setting in the story. The narrator served in the American army since he hoped that the service would change the family living standards and earn respect from the whites ( Hartdegen 55-156). However, after participating in the war, his once disadvantaged life had only made some development, and the narrator still feels alienated and frustrated. Instead of getting job opportunities and equal powers and rights, rundown housing schemes were the only benefits offered. However, the houses are the ones of the past. They denoted a life full of poverty ( Hartdegen 55-156). Living in a housing project has caused Sonny and the narrator not to have high expectations for the future; and because they came from a poor and destitute background, it would be difficult for them to climb the social ladder (Allison 75-101). Though, it is not too late for Sonny to have a happy life. With determination and perseverance to abstain from drugs, Sonny can achieve his musical career; but more significantly, he needs the support and reassurance from the brother ( Hartdegen 55-156). Without care from his only family, Sonny can be drawn into using drugs, which will finally devastate his life again.
How One Can Learn or Improve From the Study
In James Baldwins short story, Sonnys Blues, the writer advises that the best way to express sympathy to people is not by changing their personality and lifestyle, but instead by supporting their decisions and being by their side (Allison 75-101). Occasionally, when one does not comprehend other peoples beliefs and perspectives, he often regards them as naive and ludicrous (Allison 75-101). We often underrate the view that they hold and how they design their life and the. To understand another person, we need to examine how others perceive the world because different points of view give underrated and a deeper understanding ( Hartdegen 55-156). More significantly, there is a need to tolerate the closest people since people requires backup from others to operate appropriately (Allison 75-101). The narrator denotes that it was hard to catch a breath when the brother was born. He also notes that he heard the first words of his brother after birth. The ties between Sonny and his brother are strong; as they are family. They support each other when they fall, and they do not leave them behind. It is significant to elude that it a natural makeup to be concerned for others, and in certain conditions, to be accountable for others. When an individual cares for the other, they feel that they need to direct them in the most beneficial and rightful path. When a person feels accountable for someone, they feel that they need to change the lives of their desperate loved ones.
Allison Booth. NewYork: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011.75-101. Print.
Baldwin, James. Sonnys Blues. The Norton Introduction to Literature: PortableTenth Editi on. Ed. Allison Booth. NewYork: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011.75-101. Print.
Hartdegen. Minnesota: Saint Marys Press, 2005. Print.