Rich Brother vs Sonny's Blues Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

It is intriguing to observe how the narrator and Pete focus on detaching themselves from their brothers and from their past. The fact that they've reached a position that makes them distinguished from most individuals makes it possible for them to develop a sense of protectiveness. They have struggled to get where they currently are and they are unwilling to allow their brothers to affect their well-being.

Although some might be inclined to believe that Pete is less enthusiastic about helping his brother when comparing this character with the narrator in "Sonny's Blues," the reality is that Pete also feels responsible for his brother. Although he feels that Donald should be more careful about the activities he is involved in, he cannot possibly stand and watch his brother suffering. Pete's subconscious mind apparently acknowledges the important role Donald plays in his life and actually sends mixed messages concerning their relationship. The fact that Pete dreams about being blind and his brother helping him makes it possible for readers to understand that underneath the successful businessman appearance lies a vulnerable individual that puts all his hope in his brother, as the subconscious mind is well-acquainted with Donald's thinking and knows that Pete can count on him whenever he is in a complicated situation. By saying that "children always do such things" (Wolff) when being reminded that he could have killed Donald when they were little, Pete apparently wants to put across the feeling that it would be impossible for him to ever hurt his brother as an adult.

Their backgrounds have had an important effect on both the narrator and Pete. They consider that their parents' attitudes were particularly important and that they need to do everything in their power in order to live decent lives. Although they realize that their brothers are likely to be unable to adapt to society's requirements, they are nonetheless concerned about their safety and they express particular interest in providing them with resources to satisfy their basic needs. The narrator and Pete have been strongly influenced by their parents to take on honorable jobs. They feel that with their parents gone they have become the heads of their families and that it is thus important for them to look after their brothers, even with the fact that this means going through a lot of stress.

Pete constantly attempts to behave as if he were not really interested in his brother's well-being as long as Donald himself did not care. However, he realizes that he can never abandon his brother consequent to the moment when he kicks him out of the car. "And in this way, smiling, nodding to the music, he went another mile or so and pretended that he was not already slowing down, that he was not going to turn back, that he would be able to drive on like this alone, and have the right answer when his wife stood before him in the doorway of his home and asked, Where is he? Where is your brother?"(Wolff).

While most people are unlikely to understand how the narrator and Pete can still care for their brothers as they see Sonny and Donald apparently destroying their lives, it is important to look at matters from a perspective involving family connections. Family is everything for some people and they are willing to go through a great deal of trouble in order to make sure that their family members are all right.


All things considered, there is a great deal of similarities between "Sonny's Blues" and "Rich Brother." While some might think that the narrator is more understanding of Sonny, the reality is that Pete also understands and cares for his brother, the only difference being that he is too timid to put across his emotions. Pete virtually lives in a dream-world where individuals need to put across socially-acceptable behaviors in order for them to be appreciated. If he were to express his feelings freely he would practically acknowledge his weakness and he considers that it would be absurd for him to do so, especially considering that he believes Donald to be too difficult to deal…

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