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Published: 28-10-2019

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James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

Throughout James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”, darkness is utilised as a symbol to represent both the dangers and hardships faced by the African American neighborhood. The narrator describes this darkness as getting inevitable. He talks about his students saying that “all they really knew had been two darknesses, the darkness of their lives, which was now closing in on them, and the darkness of the films, which had blinded them to that other darkness” (Baldwin, 123).

As his students start to age, they will comprehend the race connected challenges that lie ahead of them and the restricted opportunities they will have merely simply because they are African American. The narrator also implies that numerous of his students could currently be utilizing drugs, just as his brother Sonny was at that age and that possibly the drugs “will do more for them than algebra could” (Baldwin, 123). As both Sonny and the narrator are in a cab riding towards Harlem, the narrator as soon as once more references this darkness, describing that the streets “begin to darken with dark people” (Baldwin, 129).

The narrator also tends to make note of the fact that not much about Harlem has changed since he and Sonny’s childhood, stating that “… homes precisely like the houses of our past however dominated the landscape, boys precisely like the boys we after had been located themselves smothering in these houses, came down into the streets for light and air, and located themselves encircled by disaster”(Baldwin, 128).

Ironically sufficient, each Sonny and the narrator had a chance to escape and flee Harlem and in no way return when they both enlisted in the military, but somehow, they have each ended up back right here.Even though in some methods the narrator seems to have escaped the inevitable darkness by not falling into an addiction of drugs, he realizes that his youngsters are now facing the very same darkness and challenges he when faced, and that this inevitable cycle is continuing from generation to generation. “The darkness outside is what the old folks have been speaking about. It’s what they’ve come from. It is what they endure. The child knows that they won’t talk any far more due to the fact if he knows also much about what’s happened to them, he’ll know too a lot as well soon, about what’s going to occur to him” (Baldwin, 131).

The sense of certainty of what is destined to take place shows that these individuals have surrendered themselves to the darkness. They have selected toaddress the darkness with silence simply because they fear that there’s nothing at all that they can do about it.
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