The story of Sonny by James Baldwin is set in Harl...
The story of Sonny by James Baldwin is set in Harlem an
impoverished and oppressed city in the African neighborhood of New York during
1950. Sonny’s experience symbolizes a people, whose hands are tied, having
limited possibilities in an unfriendly world. We realize that Sonny is arrested
for selling heroin and is imprisoned. He is not responsible for his addiction;
it is Harlem which has a severe drug addiction. The city is a trap, and as the
narrator says, the streets of Harlem are ‘vivid killing streets of their
childhood.’ Additionally, Sonny and his father did not have a good
relationship, and the narrator was not his brother’s keeper (Charters, 2015).
Sonny’s love for jazz music was a distraction. He was
passionate about the music which assisted him to endure and overcome suffering.
It was through jazz music that Sonny accepted his plight, managed to cope and
gave him a reprieve. Jazz is a representation of how we suffer, how we are
excited, we overcome and triumph our challenges. Music was his conduit to
redemption. The character of Sonny reminds people of their suffering and
heritage. Baldwin uses the role of Sonny, his addiction, and his talent to
point to something more significant that was taking place in the African
American Society of his time. Harlem was
characterized by racism, and limited opportunities and the suffering borne by
the community as a result of racism.
During the 1950’s embracing heritage in the political struggle was
crucial. It was only by understanding the culture that the people could get
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