Sonny's Blues: It's About Being His Brothers Keeper Literature Essay

886 words - 4 pages

Jessica Thompson
November 23, 2016
Mr. Hawkins
Am I my Brother’s Keeper
Brothers and sister usually have that natural concern for each other, and in some circumstance even feel responsible for their well-being. Sometime the older sibling even feels they need to guide the younger sibling into a rightful and more beneficial direction. As an older sibling myself, I feel it is my obligation to mold my sister to become a responsible adult. In the story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin the narrator, who was clearly Sonny’s older brother, doesn’t have a very close connection with his brother. According to James Tackach, “Like the Prodigal Son parable, ‘Sonny's Blues’ features two brothers, an older brother who has remained on the straight and narrow path and a younger brother who has engaged in riotous living” (Tackach 112). The narrator, promised his mother that he would look after Sonny, so he had to learn how to be a brother after several years apart from each other. In order for the narrator to help as his brother’s keeper, he would have to learn about Sonny all over again. The three ways the eldest brother learned about Sonny is through suffering, expression, and love.
One of the first ways the narrator learned to become his brother’s keeper was through suffering. In this story we have two brother that are seven years apart in age and have two different views of life. When the narrator hears about Sonny being in prison, due to drug abuse, he is upset. At first the narrator turned his back on Sonny by not responding to him or going see him while he was in prison. Eventually he became very scared and worried that Sonny would die if he did not give up heroin and get his life straight. The narrator reflects on his childhood with his brother, and remember seeing his mom looking out the window in the streets for Sonny. His brother knows that Harlem hasn’t changed at all since he and Sonny were kids, and that it never will. The narrator even recalled a story his mother told about their uncle being ran over, and killed in the streets.
The second way the eldest brother learned to be Sonny’s keeper was though expression. After their mother died the narrator tried to be responsible by taking care of his brother, Sonny. The narrator had Sonny live with his wife’s family while he was away in the military, so Sonny could go to school. What the narrator didn’t know at the time was Sonny wasn’t going to school, but instead Sonny was playing the piano all the time, and was even seen at a white woman’s apartment playing music....


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