This music played a very important role in the relationship of these two brothers. In the short story “SonnVs Blues,” by James Baldwin, “blues” represents Sonnys addiction and message to his brother because the music forms a bond between these two brothers rough relationship. Blues is a major part of Sonnys life. He has a love for this type of music and he can see himself playing and listening to this type of music for the rest of his life. This is the only thing Sonny wants to do with his life. When Sonny moves into Isabel’s parent’s house shortly after his mother passed away, he began to take this usic very seriously.
He practices continuously on the piano in his new home. Sonny began to skip school and this was the beginning of the downfall in his life with the influence of this music in his life. Isabel parents came down on Sonny horribly about his music addiction after being informed that he was skipping school. The author lets the reader know, “they penetrated his cloud, they had reached him. Even if their fingers had been a thousand times more gentle than human fingers ever are, he could hardly help feeling that they had stripped him naked and were spitting on that nakedness” (Baldwin 55). Sonny could not fight this pain.
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He felt as if his dreams were crushed and he was not willing to accept this. Sonny acknowledges that music which was life or death to him had been torture to Isabel’s family (Baldwin 55). Knowing that his music meant nothing to them or his older brother made him feel as if he is a waste. He was trying to better himself and it was complete nonsense to the rest of the people in his lives. Although, Sonny may have been doing drugs before Isabel’s parents came down on him, the feeling of being stripped of the only thing he felt that he was good at may have triggered his addiction to drugs.
This music represents Sonny’s addiction for drugs not only because he feels that he is not good at what he does, but also because this type of music allows him a chance to escape the tough life he experiences. SonnVs has been through a lot of difficult times in his life. Both parent passed away when he was only a young boy. In addition, his older brother was overseas in the army. He had no one to guide him and this was a huge mistake on behalf of his older brother. Sonny feels that the drugs associated with the blUes are exactly the way for him to become one with the music and to break away from his stressful life.
His addiction to drugs and his love for the music is intertwined together as one. He needs drugs to get through the stressful depressing music that he sings and plays. When Sonny’s older brother asks him if he needs the drugs in order to play, he replies, “It’s not so much so play. It’s to stand, to be able to make it at all on any level. In order to keep from shaking to pieces” (Baldwin 58). The meaning of these words is that Sonny needs the drugs in his system to be successful in the music, and it is a way for him to come out and let the world know his pain.
He needs this drug to keep him going when he erforms and it is a way for him to fully express himself without falling apart. Sonny feels this music is his escape and the drugs also numb the pain that he feels when he sings the blues. He can’t have one without the other and he needs this music in his life, so therefore he needs the heroin as well. Sonny’s older brother does not see eye to eye with Sonny. They have a very rough relationship and it is merely because the way Sonny lives his life and his use of drugs.
Sonnys brother never accepted him to be a musician because he felt that the music was only a downfall for Sonny. This also may have crushed Sonny inside to know that he was not getting any support from his own brother. Sonny brothers says, “l didn’t like the way he carried himself, loose and dreamlike all the time, and I didn’t like his friends, and his music seemed to be merely an excuse for the life he led” (Baldwin 56). Sonny’s brother only sees the negative part of how blues affects SonnVs life. He fails to see how much this music really means to Sonny.
He fails to see that he should try harder to help save Sonny from his addiction. Sonnys brother is unable to see that Sonny will not give up Blues. When Sonny is eleased from prison he sees things a little different. Prison may have opened up his eyes to see that his lifestyle was unhealthy and will only lead to his downfall in the future if he continues. Blues is what makes Sonny and his older brother relationship so rough, but this music is what brings the two brothers together as well. They both view the music and the lifestyle that it brings differently.
They form a closer bond after Sonny’s brother goes to the night club with Sonny. When they both appeared at the night club Sonnys brother watched him and Sonny’s close friends perform. He witnessed something he had never witnessed efore. When Sonny began to perform, his brother says, “It was very beautiful because it wasn’t hurried and it was no longer a lament. I seemed to hear with what burning he had made it his, and what burning we had yet to make it ours, how we could cease lamenting” (Baldwin 63).
Through Sonnys music he could see that there was no more grieve in Sonny, and when Sonny is performing, he is free from all his sadness. He witnesses SonnVs escape and sees that he himself can be free from his pain as well through SonnVs music. Sonny’s brother witnesses this fire inside Sonny without drugs in his system. He sees Sonny eing successful in playing and singing this music for the first time in his life. This view on Sonny opens up their relationship and brings them closer than ever before. Sonnys brother is finally aware of how much love his brother has for this music.
He gains some insight on what this music means and how it is helpful. Sonny’s brother says, “l understand, at last, that Sonny could help us to be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did” (Baldwin 63). Sonny brother means that listening to the pain that Sonny sings about is a pain that he can relate too. He also begins to understand that listening to Sonny s music as a way of freeing Sonny from the pain that Sonny endures, and it would also help himself as well to escape his own misery.
This music was a way of way of letting all the emotions out and Sonny’s brother realized that. Sonny’s love for the music led to many troubles in his life as well as stress for the family and love ones in his life. Although Sonny’s addiction to drugs had a negative impact on his life he found a way to connect to his brother with the very same thing that brought them so far apart. Sonny connected with his brother by letting him witness what this music does for him. Sonny proves to his brother that he can be successful at singing blues at the night club.