September 22, 2014
Literary Analysis Essay 1 Music: A calming soul
James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" is told from the viewpoint of the title character's brother, a schoolteacher, who lives a much different life than Sonny himself. As the story opens, the unnamed teacher has just learned that his younger brother has been arrested for possession and sale of heroin: "It was not to be believed and I kept telling myself that, as I walked (Baldwin’s 8-14) from the subway station to the high school. And at the same time I couldn't doubt it. I was scared, scared for Sonny. He became real to me again. A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long, while I taught my classes algebra. It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less. Sometimes it hardened and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream. This would always be at a moment when I was remembering some (Baldwin’s 13) specific thing Sonny had said or done."
Entering a dimly lit room Sonny introduced his brother to all his friends and fellow musicians. This was the first time that Sonny’s brother walked into Sonny’s world. What Sonny’s brother did not realize was that tonight, he would see what his brother was really like. Sonny’s older brother was always the responsible one, the safe one, the take the higher road person. He served time in the military, he married a wonderful lady, and he went to college and, became a teacher. As Sonny and the band began playing his brother saw Sonny in a different light (Baldwin’s 14). “The music that was filling the air he realized was trying to explain something”. Tell him a story. As the brother looked on and listened closer he began to understand the music as if it was speaking to him. It was retelling a story in a way the he never quite understood. The sound was speaking not only of his Brother Sonny’s life but also of the life of all the people he cared for and loved. In his unhurried melody his brother heard Sonny’s life and their future and what he would continue to experience until the day that his eyes would close for the last time.
He realized tonight that this is Sonny’s legacy this music that was deeply affecting his soul. He recalled the legacy his parents left, the Sunday afternoons that were spent at home with family. The stories they told were about what they had endured and how they made it thru the other side. For this story to include catharsis, the characters must go through emotional purging, atonement for some mistake, and then the audience must have a cleansing or realization. Sonny experiences emotional purging when he stops using the piano