Sometimes fiction can be a mirror image of real life, a reflection that the reader can immediately relate to; while sometimes it can be wildly fantastic and bizarre. But since the basis of fiction is something that is not anchored in reality, the author's limitless imagination is the fuel which powers the engine of fiction. But within the human mind can come stories that are representations of real life, with real-life situations, emotions, motivations, actions, and outcomes. One such story is James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues, which is a gritty tale of real-life social problems and one man's attempt to redeem himself. On the other hand, fiction can also be something that is out of this world, without the limitations and constrictions of real-life. Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron is a perfect example of such a story as it takes place in a dystopian future where society has become a monstrous creation where a man attempts to escape the tyrannical repression that is forced upon all in grotesque ways. Within these two stories are characters who seek to change their lives through taking action; one seeks redemption for the betrayal of this brother, while the other seeks escape from an oppressive society. However, the actions embarked upon by these two characters, despite having good intentions, result in very different outcomes.
James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues is the story of a man's redemption. It is also the story of drug abuse and its effects, not only on the abuser, but those around him. Told from the point-of-view of an unnamed narrator, the narrator is the drug abuser's brother, a man who promised his dying mother he would take care of his brother, Sonny, but found it too much and eventually turned his back on him. Sonny continued his downward spiral and eventually ended up in prison, while the narrator went on with his life, marrying and having a daughter. Despite this, the narrator is in need of redemption from the betrayal of his brother, as well as the failure to live up to the promise he made to his mother. After many years, and personal hardships, the narrator finally makes the decision to reconcile with his troubled brother. He comes to his decision when his own daughter dies from polio and he finally understands the kind of pain that his brother has been forced to endure, and why he has turned to drugs. He also comes to realize that the loss of someone you love is a terrible thing and, turning his attention toward his brother Sonny, comes to discover that if you can get a lost loved one back, he should try to do so. This is when he makes the decision to renew his relationship with his brother Sonny. The narrator's decision to reconcile with his brother is the catalyst that results in a major change within him, his view of the world, and his view of his troubled brother.
In stark contrast is Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron which is not only set in the future, but a miserable, tyrannical, future. Vonnegut's 2081 is not a year in which any sane person would hope to live; it is a dystopian future where everyone is forced to be equal, no matter how absurd the attempt to do so. The Bergeron's; George, Hazel, and their son Harrison, live in a world where intelligent people have buzzers in their heads to keep them from being too smart, while beautiful people must wear masks to cover their faces so other, less attractive people don't feel bad. As Vonnegut himself stated "Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else." (Vonnegut) Everyone knows the feeling of being stifled, of not being allowed to express oneself, or of being suppressed, and the Bergerons are common people being forced to do things against their will. This may be something that every common person who has ever felt helpless against a monolithic government can relate to, but Harrison Bergeron's attempt to free himself is not. Harrison's attempt to free himself from the government's enforced equality is as bizarre as the rules of his society, and he is promptly killed.
Both characters, the narrator and Harrison Bergeron, come to a point where they make a decision to act; however, the narrator in Sonny's Blues takes real, concrete action toward something better; while Harrison Bergeron seems to go insane with power. The narrator's motivations are pure and his actions are good, and ultimately this results in a good outcome. After experiencing personal tragedy, he begins to understand his brother's pain and becomes closer as a result. When Harrison Bergeron throws off society's restrictions he seems to gain almost superhuman powers, but then suffers a mental breakdown which necessitates his death. Harrison's motivation to escape from a tyrannical society may have been good, but once accomplished he learned nothing and became like that which he despised. These two stories both may endow their characters with motivations that are good, but on the other hand they are very different from the point-of-view of their realism as well as in the actions and outcomes of the main characters.
Assignment 2,-Week 3
"Cut," said the Bill the cameraman. "and we're out of here." The bright light that made it possible to the reporter to be seen in the night immediately went dark, but the spots on his eyes remained to blind him for another few minutes. He wasn't able to see the face of Bill who told him he had done an excellent job, but he felt the pride of someone who had worked hard, for a long time, to get to where he was. The rookie reporter had stood in front of the camera and tried to maintain the most professional face he could; carefully, steadily, and with as much professionalism as he could muster, he went through his report. And when he remembered the name of the anchor back at the station correctly, one of his worst fears ever since freshman year of college, he felt a sense of satisfaction that he had finally made it. His name was originally Barry Manilow Stepanski and at the time of his birth his mother had been a devoted fan, some may say stalker, of the sappy seventies singer; which explains why he had always hated his name. Once out of college, and embarking on his career in broadcasting, he immediately changed it to Greg Kirkland, a name he felt was not only manly, but also had a nice ring to it. Greg Kirkland had gotten his job with a nothing little television station in Harrison California just two weeks before and this was his first on-air report. It was a sad, but all too common story of a missing child, this time a little girl had been abducted from a shopping mall. Greg was located outside the mall, but carefully positioned to include the large sign that announced "Happy Valley Mall" in the background of the shot. Harrison CA, was a town of around 30,000 people, located in the mountains of northern California. The Happy Valley Mall, named after the valley the town was located in, was surrounded by the most beautiful mountains Greg had ever seen. All types of greens, browns, yellows, and a plethora of other colors spotted the sides of the mountains; with all of them covered with a topping of white snow. To those who had first settled the area, this was truly a "Happy Valley."
But it was not a happy day at Happy Valley Mall, and Greg Kirkland's first live report was about a little girl who was, in most likelihood, dying or already dead. "You know what most likely happened to the girl, don't you?" asked Bill, who's face Greg could finally make out.…