Sonny’s blues is a short story by James Baldwin that was published in 1957. The story is about two brothers who grow up in Harlem, a black neighborhood in New York City. The storyline centers around the obstacles and hardships that the two brothers and their friends faced in Harlem. The story is told by Sonny’s eldest sibling, who also works as a teacher. Furthermore, the narrator discusses his younger brother’s opioid addiction, which leads to his conviction for heroin use. Similarly, the topic of addiction will be addressed in this article. Under the topic of addiction, the article explains what reasons underlie drug addiction, how does he divide the responsibility for substance abuse and the roles played by social, economic and family or personal factors that result to dependence on drugs. Moreover, the paper will also focus on how the resources that help the younger brother, Sonny to control his substance abuse and remain in his recovery and if there are better chances of Sonny staying in recovery if the story was set today rather than the year 1955.
Sonny became addicted to drugs since he was in an industry that was profoundly bounded by drugs and most of his fellow musicians were addicts of heroin. He was influenced by the people that surrounded him since his career depended on the music industry (Freudenburg, pp. 28). The new friends of Sonny are the ones who make him change his lifestyle and his behavior. His brother does not like the friends that Sonny is affiliated with since they are the ones that made Sonny involve in taking of heroin since they were already addicted. According to the narrator, he divides the responsibility for substance abuse by sabotaging the addiction of heroin by his brother by writing him a letter. He accepts the fact that his younger brother is an addict and therefore it is his responsibility to ensure that he refrains from using heroin.
Social factor plays a role in addiction since his new friends who were musicians influenced him into taking drugs. The musicians that surround him put pressure on him into depicting their ill guided ways of life such as taking heroin. Despite the fact that heroin made the life of the narrator_x0092_s brother worse, it made his music better, a realization that made him continue abusing drugs. From his music career, he had enough capital to sustain his desires for drugs. (Murray, pp. 353). Additionally, family factors play the role towards addiction of Sonny in that his eldest brother is not there for him as stumbles deeper into an addiction to heroin. He has no one to lean on since there was no good rapport amid him and eldest brother who is the narrator.
In this story, certain resources helped Sonny control his addiction. For instance, the point at which he is playing the piano has a lot to be desired in his journey to recovery. The narrator shows how emotions override him when he thinks of his past and how addiction took a toll on his life. The thought of how his addiction issues led his family members to avoid him are some of the resources that encourage him towards his journey to recovery. Nonetheless, if the story stood in today, Sonny would have a better chance of staying in recovery rather than the story being set in 1955. This is because currently there are very efficient programs that have been placed into effect that helps addicts in recovering, such as ultra-modern rehabilitation centers. With this kind of setups, there is no doubt Sonny_x0092_s journey to recovery would have been good.
Murray, Donald C. “James Baldwin’s” Sonny’s Blues”: Complicated and Simple.” Studies in Short Fiction 14.4 (1977): 353.
Freudenburg, Marie. “The Power of the Blues: A Response to Baldwin_x0092_s _x0093_Sonny_x0092_s Blues_x0094_.” The Laureate 11.1 (2014): 28.