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Sonny's Blues

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A captivating tale of relationship of two troubling brothers in Harlem, "Sonny's Blues" is told from a perspective of Sonny's brother, whose name is never mentioned. Baldwin's choice of Sonny's brother as a narrator is what makes "Sonny's Blues" significant in terms of illustrating the relationship and emotional complications of Sonny and his brother. The significance of "Sonny's Blues" lies in the way Sonny's brother describes the relationship based on what he observes, hears, and feels, and how he struggles trying to understand Sonny through the course of the story.

As Sonny's brother, he gets to be physically and mentally as close to Sonny as anyone else can. Readers get to know that Sonny's brother is a fairly reliable narrator from the fact that he is an algebra teacher and far less abused by "horse" or "the low ceiling of their actual possibilities" than the kids around the neighborhood, including Sonny. Sonny's brother is aware of what is going on between Sonny and him and accurately describes the relationship, "The seven years' difference in our ages lay between us like a chasm: I wondered if these years would ever operate between us as a bridge." (44) The "chasm" is where the story begins, and revolves around the entire story. Sonny's brother is aware of the "chasm," yet what Sonny is thinking remains mysterious since the narrator himself does not know. His narration allows readers to keep wondering and exploring flaky and "dreamlike" mind of Sonny.

Sonny's brother stands as a major character and also as a first person narrator, meaning that he is a participant in the action. Baldwin achieves the sense of vividness by placing the narrator right in the middle of the action. "I started down the steps, whistling to keep from crying, I kept whistling to myself, You going to need me, baby, one of these cold, rainy days." (54) After an awful fight, Sonny's brother is disappointed at Sonny and himself. His whistling vividly conveys his struggle, despair and also love for his brother, allowing readers to get into his feeling.

Dialogue is effectively used from Sonny's brother's point of view to convey how misunderstanding of two brothers gets built up. In the middle of a long conversation, Sonny's brother notes, "I simply couldn't see why on earth he'd want to spend his time hanging around nightclubs, clowning around on bandstands, while people pushed each other around a dance floor." (50) Readers understand how indifferent and ignorant



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