Essay on The Demons Inside

Submitted By 00252196
Words: 543
Pages: 3

The short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin is a moving depiction of a man trapped physically, mentally, and emotionally. Throughout the story the narrator’s brother Sonny is searching for a means of escaping that reality. Physically, Sonny is trying to flee the slums of Harlem. “Boys… came down into the streets for light and air and found themselves encircled by disaster. Some escaped the trap, most didn’t” (569). Baldwin illustrates here how negatively they view the city in which they grew up. In a heated conversation later in the story Sonny very bluntly states, “I don’t want to stay in Harlem no more, I really don’t” (576). Because of the living conditions, poverty, and the lack of opportunity Sonny has a strong desire to flee his hometown. In fact, Sonny ends up joining the Navy in an effort to get away and ironically ends up back in Harlem after his time in the service. Mentally, Sonny is trying to escape his demons and a feeling of hopelessness through the use of drugs, specifically heroin. Sonny reverts to taking drugs because of his depression and fear of the unknown. In a letter from jail, Sonny writes to his brother and mentions, “I guess I was afraid of something” (568). Without admitting to it, he is confessing that he did wrong and he is telling his brother that he is scared and alone.
Also, Sonny is suffering inside. The narrator asks him directly, “…there’s no way not to suffer-is there, Sonny?”
“I believe not” he said (582). In order to cope with these issues Sonny does what he only know how and turns to drugs for a distraction.
Emotionally, Sonny feels isolated with no family support. In a letter to his brother he writes from prison, Sonny opens with, “You don’t know how much I needed to hear from you” (568). This expresses the longing that he has for contact in any form and much needed support structure. Sonny turns to music as a means of escape from these issues as well, “Sonny was at that piano playing for his life,” and “that music, which was life or death to him” (578).