“Sonny´s Blues” is the story written by James Baldwin which tells about the lives of two brothers who were drug addicts. The story shows how the brothers seek their identity and how, as a result, they identify themselves. The young men overcome a lot of life difficulties and blame their way of living of the challenges they had to face. However, though they realize who they are and start identifying themselves in a certain way, only one of them takes charge of his life.
Sonny represents a real tragedy in the story; reading about his struggles, many people feel sympathy for him. He tells his brother that during his life he was lonely and frustrated finding himself at the bottom. Moreover, the character realizes that whatever he did made him sank into his problems even more (Baldwin 218). Hopelessness and inner emptiness led him to the path of drugs though the main character does not regard the difficulties he has to overcome as an excuse of his drug addiction. However, it is obvious that Sonny could choose another path that is not filled with drugs. Comparing Sonny to his brother, one can see that indeed the musician Sonny had other options than starting drug usage because his brother, who is the narrator of the story, succeeded in life more than Sonny. The narrator managed to start a family, create a home, and build a career though he also was a drug addict. Consequently, throughout his life, Sonny has made bad life decisions in contrast to his brother.
The ending of the story is opened; therefore, it is very hard to identify whether Sonny changed his life for better or not. This depends on readers and their imagination. On the one hand, one can view Sonny as a loser that continues suffering. On the other hand, one can perceive him as a real hero who conquers his addiction and becomes a good example for many people who do not believe in themselves enough to become successful. In fact, there is also the third variant – Sonny has certain features of each of them, both heroic and antiheroic characters. He is a central character not because he is very close to the narrator, but also because through his character, the author showed how one person can fulfill many roles that depend on the way readers perceive the story (Francis 47).
The second brother, who is the narrator, also plays an important role in the story. The narrator not only tells the story itself, but also gives the alternative vision of Sonny´s life. One can see the difference between the two brothers since the narrator tries to make Sonny think over his future and performs the role of a father for him as their parents passed away. The narrator does not share Sonny´s way of living and passion for music, but still he cares about Sonny and his interests.
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Being a teacher, the narrator follows the rules and tries to be a person he is supposed to be. As one can see, the main concern of the narrator is that his brother Sonny did not choose the same way of living and path that he did. He does not know for sure how to help his brother, but he does his best in order to try. He does everything he can and everything that he believes is right in this situation. In contrast to Sonny, the narrator is a rather dynamic character since throughout the story he experiences a noticeable change. The change occurs because the narrator tries to gain some comprehension of his brother Sonny and alter his way of living for better.
The two brothers have completely different paths and faiths. Sonny does not take charge of his life; instead, his brother who remains unnamed in the story tries to take care both of Sonny and himself. Generally, the narrator succeeds in his attempts in contrast to Sonny. One cannot state that the brothers act upon; they rather proactively take charge of their lives as they seek their identity. In the end of the story, both characters make certain conclusions and identify themselves in a certain way. Thus, the narrator explains that he is a family man who feels his responsibility for his family and brother.
In his turn, Sonny indentifies himself as a hopeless musician who has nothing in this world except for his music, heroin, and his brother. The brothers are not articulate about their identities; however, now they are together, and they start understanding each other better. Having read ”Sonny’s Blues”, one can see that throughout the story the narrator becomes more and more reliable (Miller 75). At first, he does not take his time and efforts to contact his brother and help him. However, later he changes and becomes the only support for Sonny.
The ending of the story is rather controversial since it is opened; the author gives his readers an opportunity to think over the ending and what happens next. In fact, there are only two variants. First, Sonny also changes for better giving up heroin, and the author shows a successful but hard story of the lives of two brothers. Second, Sonny remains a frustrated and depressed drug addict musician with the author showing the contrast between two brothers.