Sonnys Blues Essay

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Analysis of Sonny’s Blues The setting in the short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin plays an important role in the piece. The story takes place in Harlem during the early 1950s. The author’s decision to choose Harlem as the city that the story takes place in played an important role in the narrative. Baldwin describes the projects as “rocks in the middle of a boiling sea.” The projects have playgrounds that are populated by drug dealers and they have large windows that no one wants to look out of. Part of the reason why Sonny turns to drugs is to escape his surroundings. In Sonny’s blues there is also a similar world within Harlem. In the story the kitchen is also important to the setting because of the epiphanies that occur in that scene. There is the small night club that Sonny plays in at the end of the story where Sonny’s brother has a revelation about Sonny’s music and why he loves it so much. The night club is a far less menacing place and serves as a refuge for Sonny where he can forget about his drug addiction. The selection of the city Harlem for this particular short story most likely came from James Baldwin’s personal experience. James Baldwin grew up in Harlem, New York and so he most likely knows the setting very well. Harlem has a reputation of being a dangerous and undesirable place to live. The fact that Sonny is a heroin addict would not be surprising to a reader of this short story if they were educated on the city of Harlem. Sonny’s drug addiction greatly reflects where he grew up because he wanted to escape from reality and the only way he knew how was to do drugs. When he was high he didn’t have to face the reality of his life which he knew was heading in the wrong direction. If Sonny had grown up in a better area then heroin might have never been a part of his life. Although Harlem isn’t a great place to live in the author made it
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