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Bad Essay

1618 words - 7 pages

After reading "Sonny's Blues" for the first time the reader may be tempted to categorize the story as nothing more than a sibling rivalry with a near-positive ending. After the second and third readings many underlying themes start to emerge, and the reader starts to understand many of the ideas that James Baldwin had when he wrote this story. The main conflict in the story is that the narrator's brother, Sony, can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. It begins with Sonny getting thrown in jail for drug charges. Sonny's brother, the narrator of the story, had lost touch with Sonny for a few years but the death of his daughter brings him to contact Sonny. The reader, through a series ...view middle of the document...

Sonny's brother probably just feels guilty for the fact that he promised his mother that he would "hold on to [his] brother and don't let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him"(25). Sonny obviously has a drug problem, and sort of a psychological problem for that matter, however his brother has a few problems of his own that he has not come to terms with. As mentioned before, the unfulfilled promise that the narrator made with his deceased mother is eating away at him. Sonny's brother should step out of context and accept his brother for who he is instead of who his mother expected him to be. That doesn't necessarily mean accepting his drug problems, but just accepting Sonny as an actual thinking person. Once he has done that he can begin to have civilized conversations with him and possibly get things solved. Almost everyone knows somebody with a bad habit or somebody that just consistently makes bad decisions, and almost everyone's gut reaction to that person they know is negative. This is the same predicament that Sonny's brother is in. When he talks to Sonny or finds out about his latest mishap, he blows his top and doesn't know how to control his feelings. That's not saying that it is right to not say anything, but maybe not speak so harshly. Things get accomplished easier when two people have a civilized conversation. Sonny's brother is a smart guy and knows exactly how he could get his brother to actually listen to him but he gets caught up in the moment and resorts to scolding Sonny as if he were his child. It is very easy to blame someone for his or her lifestyle without thinking it through but it takes a much stronger person to evaluate the situation and decide what is actually the person's own fault. This idea brings up one of the main underlying themes of this short story, "How much can you blame a person for his or her wrong actions?" Sonny's actions don't physically hurt anyone but himself, but that doesn't make him or her right. So where is the happy medium in this situation? Exactly how much of Sonny's bad decision making is his own fault? Author Kurt Vonnegut, in the introduction to his novel Breakfast of Champions, said that he is always tempted to create a character and "say that he is what he is because of faulty wiring, or because of microscopic amounts of chemicals which he ate of failed to eat on that particular day." This is the basis of an argument that has haunted people for many years. Not only in personal situations but even in legal situations. How often is there a story in the paper about someone being declared mentally insane in a court of law and dodging a prison sentence. I am not saying that Sonny should be allowed to live a normal life without anyone giving him a hard time because he has no control over the chemicals in his head, but his brother should realize that Sonny really can't help the way he feels sometimes. When Sonny and his brother have their...

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