African American Cultural Influence on an Author
In James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues," and Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," the irony and ambiguity in the Negro way of life can be found in the distorted concept of new found "freedom" that was granted to blacks during this time through the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation. Through these documents blacks were granted the right to be viewed as separate but equal to whites however, the promise of equality had not been realized and the oppression that continued and its effect on the black family and specifically sibling relationships can be seen in the works of both Baldwin and Walker
The ambiguity lied in the promise of "separate but equal," which was really "separate and not equal" this ambiguity (confusion) caused identity crisis within the black communities and its effects can be seen in the sibling relationships of Dee and Maggie and Sonny and his brother. In both stories you find a sibling that have assimilated (accepted their role in society) and adjusted to the way of life of the times, and you also find a sibling that struggles with finding their place in society. The character Dee in Walker's story on the surface seems to be the more established well adjusted sibling of the two sisters. In an act of defiance she rejects her heritage and instead decides to take on a new African identity. The shedding of her former name and thus her former identity is her way of rejecting her oppressors “I couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me. (Walker 1337) ” The sibling Maggie who is less educated, less beautiful and more accepting of the circumstances appears to be the less fortunate sibling but as the story unfolds so does the irony as Maggie is revealed as the sister with true understanding of what matters in life (Family) “Maggie smiled…a real smile, not scared (Walker 1340).”
In "Sonny's Blues" the character Sonny is the sibling who seems to be a...