Books and Movies Reviews

Listening as the Theme in ;Son

Theme is an essential element to any story, serving as a central message the author means to convey to the reader.In "Sonny's Blues," a short story by James Baldwin, the theme of the story shows the reader the importance of listening, both in the narrator's life, but also in the reader's life.By following the difficult lives of two brothers who grew up in Harlem, New York, Baldwin explains the painful process of one brother's learning to listen.As the two brothers attempt to heal wounds left from the past, the story illustrates the importance of learning to listen.To Baldwin, listening seems to carry a double meaning: the true ability to communicate with one another and really caring for one another.
The relationship between the two brothers shows throughout the story thefirst type of listening.In the beginning of the story, the narrator is a man who does not know how to listen, and who finds himself unable to assist Sonny in his time of need.When the police arrest Sonny for heroin addiction, the narrator then describes his reaction: “A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting slowly all day long […] Sometimes it hardened up and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream” (Page 272).Shock and sorrow physically plague the narrator, paralyzing him from any expression.Due to this event, he does not even contact Sonny until the death of his daughter, a year later.Then, in his own time of need, he reaches out for Sonny, perhaps realizing that Sonny might be able to help him.
Through this tragedy, he is finally able to respond to Sonny’s trouble because of his own suffering. Before the death of his daughter, he can not hear or understand Sonny at all, although he really wants to.After her death, he is able to keep in touch with Sonny, and to communicate with him a little when he returns to Ha…


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