sA Changing Character In the short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin a schoolteacher from the city of Harlem struggles with life and figuring out how to helped his troubled brother. All though named Sonny’s Blues the main character is actually Sonny’s brother who is the narrator and goes through his life and how he reacts to the many problems his younger brother has come into. The brothers grew up in the poverty stricken city of Harlem where the brothers had to avoid drugs and violence constantly.
Growing up, Sonny struggled to stay out of trouble and ended up making some bad decisions throughout his life and ends up landing him in jail and addicted to heroin. The un-named brother of Sonny who is the narrator of the story begins to realize he should help his brother instead of pushing him away after the arrest and by the end has completely changed his view on what he thinks of Sonny and becomes sympathetic.
On the morning the morning the narrator first reads of Sonny’s arrest he is very disturbed at what his brother has become. Finding out what Sonny has done brings disappointment and anger to the narrator.
Sonny had always “been a good boy” (Baldwin 240) in the narrators eyes and had always believed “Sonny was wild, but he wasn’t crazy. ” (Baldwin 240) Even though the narrator feels Sonny isn’t a evil person at heart, he doesn’t show compassion for Sonny because he believes it is too late and he wont change his lifestyles. The brothers go over a year without communicating until a tragic event opens the eyes of the narrator and changes his view on Sonny. The first change in character of the narrator comes when he has to deal with the tragic death of his daughter.
His daughter who’s name happens to be Grace was especially hard for him to deal with as it was unexpected and there was no way he could have stopped it. Grace’s death is also symbolic to the death the narrator’s sense of grace. The narrator begins to have feelings of regret for not being there more for the people he cares about and begins to have more interest in the well being of Sonny. He begins to write Sonny and the two brothers talk more about there interest. Eventually the narrator and invites him to live his family once he is released from prison and Sonny reluctantly agrees to live there until he finishes college.
This is a big turning point in the narrator’s character because he had finally began to wonder “ about the life that Sonny had lived” (Baldwin 243) and started making his efforts to take care of his little brother like he once promised his mother. When Sonny moves in with the family, he is given the expectation to finish college and stay out of trouble. Sonny has other ideas though and skips his classes to go to the local jazz club and play music. When the narrator first learns of Sonny’s antics he is very disappointed and is frustrated that Sonny continues to pursue a musical career.
He believes it is part of the reason that Sonny has had so much trouble in the past and doesn’t believe it is a positive thing for his brother. Sonny is immediately kicked out and the two go for another extended period of time until talking again. Eventually the narrator has another change of heart and invites his brother to live with him again and Sonny agrees. The two struggle to communicate so one day Sonny invites the narrator to come watch him play at the jazz club and it is then that the narrator truly understands his younger brother.
He is watching Sonny play with a group of musicians when he sees “Sonny’s face is trouble” (Baldwin 254) with the difficulty in the piece. He watches Sonny struggle with the piano that he hadn’t played in over a year and it is then that he truly understands everything that Sonny has gone through. He sees all the struggles and pain he has dealt with and that music has been his escape from it the whole time. For the first time the narrator finally understands his younger brother and feels sincere compassion for him. This final change is the biggest one of all and it is what the whole story is based about.
Throughout the entire story of “Sonny’s Blue’s” the main character who is the narrator is constantly changing as a person and struggling to understand his troubled younger brother. He goes through the struggles of dealing with a addict brother and isn’t able to truly understand why his brother does the things he does until the very end. Watching his brother play music opens his eyes to the true struggles his brother has and how even if it may not seem like it, Sonny is a good person who has troubles like everyone else.
Cite this Sonnys Blues Character Analysis
Sonnys Blues Character Analysis. (2016, Sep 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/sonnys-blues-character-analysis/