"Sonny’s Blues" essay

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This book talks about family relations, politics, religion, and many other social issues including music, drug abuse, among others. Even though this book seems to take place long time ago, Sonny’s Blues addresses issues that are still affecting our societies today. This book has many characters who contribute directly and indirectly, despite the fact that it is narrated by one person. These characters include Sonny, Sonny’s brother - narrator, Isabel - narrator’s wife, Gracie - narrator’s daughter, Sonny’s childhood friend, narrator’s father, mother, uncle and students, among others. All these characters have unique characteristics and contribute significantly to the development of the plot and themes in the book. In order to understand the role and contribution of every character in this book, thorough analysis is required. This paper will be, therefore, analyzing the narrator as a character.

In his book Sonny’s Blues, James Baldwin uses a narrator to present his work. This character narrates the whole story in the book giving information on many different cases that affected him and his family. The narrator, whose name is not mentioned in the book, shares his story with the reader of the book as he talks about many different life aspects. The narrator is a high school teacher, teaching mathematics, a husband, a father, and a brother of Sonny. In the book, the narrator is presented in many different ways - a fact which helps the author to pass a wide variety of information to his reader.

To start with, the narrator is presented as a responsible person with high ability of taking his responsibilities fully. Right from childhood to adulthood, the narrator is presented as a responsible person. Like an elder brother, he helped his mother to take care of his younger brother - Sonny. He went to school and past his examinations well. Presentation of the narrator as a reliable person is seen when his mother left him with a responsibility of taking care of his brother after she was dead. She gave him good reasons as to why he should take care of his brother by telling him that he had an uncle whose death nobody had talked about (Baldwin 3). Since then, we see the narrator doing all his best to take care of Sonny- his brother, till Sonny decided to part ways. Even after his arrest, the narrator welcomes Sonny and continues to take care of him.

The narrator is also presented as a worker – a middle class worker. Even though the narrator is doing what might not be viewed by many working class people as good job, he likes his work and offers all the best. When we first meet the narrator, he is a high school teacher- teaching mathematics, and by the time he received news of Sonny’s arrest, he was teaching algebra. He also once worked in the army where he fought in many wars. “Mama tried to tell me something about this, just after Daddy died. I was home on leave from the army (Baldwin 5).” This shows that the narrator was a worker and worked hard.

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