Sonny’s Suffering

Throughout the story, I noticed a very prominent theme of suffering and loss. I was especially captivated by the narrator, his views on Sonny, and lack of his name ever being introduced. His character was very mysterious, yet very understandable.

The narrator is someone who has suffered from a great amount of pain throughout his life. The narrators father died when he was young, his mother died when he was a young adult, he has been through the horrors of war, and lost his baby girl to polio. On top of all of this, he has also had to watch his brother’s life suffer and fall apart.

The pain the narrator felt throughout his life was portrayed in the story through the tone. Since the story is told from the narrators perspective, we are really clued in to the pain he feels about his brother and how his life has turned out.

There are many time in the story where our emotions are evoked through sympathy. The narrator describes Sonny’s addiction, losing his daughter, and the sadness connected to the loss of his parents in a very painful and devastating way. This greatly increases the sympathy we feel as the audience and allows us to connect this emotion to the story.

Baldwin expresses, “These boys, now, were living as we’d been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities.” This quote beautifully illustrates the pain and suffering. We can even hear it in the tone.

One thought on “Sonny’s Suffering

  1. JENNA S

    I like your insight into the sympathy we feel for both the narrator and Sonny. Along with the pain they felt separately, the two also shared deep wounds together of their childhood and loss of family. I like the quote at the end because it also shows the cycle kids in Harlem are put into and how hard it is to escape. While the narrator was able to make a life for himself, Sonny had a much harder time leaving which is when he found success and happiness in blues.


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