Sonny's Blues: Examination Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Music Type: Essay Paper: #24788214 Related Topics: Algebra, Jazz, Imprisonment, Self Reflection
Excerpt from Essay :

Sonny's Blues

Who is the main character in the story (choose between Sonny and the narrator)? Also, explain why then you consider the other man to be a minor character.

The main character of the story is without a doubt the narrator. This is because the narrator is the one who is doing all of the experiencing in the film. The narrator is the one who discovers the news about Sonny and is the one who receives all information and who processes all information. Truly the narrator is the one who sets the tone and who introduces all thoughts and impressions to the reader. Without the narrator, the reader would not have any information about the past and present, and while all of this information does revolve around Sonny, essentially the narrator is the one who is engaging in all of the actions and discoveries in the story. In fact, Sonny could be considered to almost be a plot point rather than a minor character. Sonny and the unfortunate consequences that he fell into were essentially events that have forced the narrator to embark on an emotional journey of self-reflection.

As one literary critic reminds us, "the basic conflict of the story, which is -- it is essential to remember -- the older brother's story is the narrator's inability to understand and respect the life of the younger brother he so clearly loves. Baldwin carefully establishes the brothers as opposites. The narrator is a cautious, respectable family man. He teaches math and is proud of his professional standing. Living in a Harlem housing project, he consciously protects himself from the dangers that surround him. Notice how intensely he appears to dislike Sonny's friend, the


Thus, much of the story can be interpreted as the narrator being forced to encounter events that he doesn't want to encounter: the narrator is taken out of his emotional and personal comfort zone and ultimately pushed to think about things which are unpleasant and come to terms with them.

b. Explain the function of all of the women minor characters in the story.

The minor female characters all serve a specific function in the story. This function is to have a direct impact on the narrator, Sonny and their specific relationship. The mother of both Sonny and the narrator is the one who expresses with great clarity the medley of issues which surround them and her very staunch concerns about them. The mother is the one is able to distill many of the forces of the story into a few sentences and bring the narrator's attention to them. As one critic explains, "The mother is the central moral figure of the story. Her last conversation with the narrator ultimately becomes a crucial part of his impetus to reconcile with Sonny. (The other, more immediately compelling motivation is the death of the narrator's small daughter from polio: 'My trouble,' the narrator confesses, 'made his real.')" (Gioia, 2001). This excerpt brings up the significance of yet another minor female character. This character is the catalyst that pushes the narrator to reach out to his brother again. This character functions essentially as a sign of the fragility of life and the importance of familial bonds and making an effort with the ones you love and the ones that are important to you. Even so, it is the mother who warns the narrator about how difficult it will be for him to try to reconnect with his younger brother. One of the important functions that she serves is that she…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Baldwin, J. (2012). Sonny's Blues. Retrieved from

Gioia, D. (2001). "Sonny's Blues." Retrieved from

Cite this Document:

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