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9; In the story " Sonny? s Blues" by James Baldwin, we see many uses of symbolism. Symbolism is the most critical literary technique that Baldwin uses to achieve the intense connection to the characters that the reader feels in " Sonny? s Blues" . 9; " Sonny's Blues" is a story about the relationship of two brothers and how they deal with their two different lives.
This story is also about a family member coping with another family member? s addiction. The first metaphor we are exposed to in this story is found in the second paragraph, " A great block of Ice settled in my belly and kept melting there all day long, while I taught my classes algebra. It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less.
Sometimes it hardened and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream. " (47). With this quotation the reader achieves a direct connection with the narrator. The symbolism of ice representing pain is an excellent metaphor because it allows the reader to feel the narrator? s pain.
If the reader actually had a brother who was caught doing Heroin in a raid, Baldwin could achieve this emotional response by saying, " I felt just like I did the day I found out my brother was doing Heroin. " Most of the general population has not had this experience. Therefore, when Baldwin uses the ice to describe the pain as a feeling that will not go away despite the fact that he must teach his students algebra, the reader feels exactly what Sonny? s brother is feeling at the time. 9; The use of symbolism in " Sonny? s Blues" is very effective in conveying emotion to the reader. One example other than the " ice metaphor" is when Sonny and his brother are riding in a cab and they head uptown in New York City, towards Harlem.
The two brothers ride silently in the cab as they were reflecting upon Harlem where they had both grown up. Both Sonny and the Narrator are looking for an " escape" from Harlem. The narrator feels that he has escaped by becoming a school teacher. Sonny had tried to escape from Harlem through drug use and eventually finds his true " escape" through music.
While the two brothers are riding in this cab together the narrator comes to a revelation about their differences which is eloquently written by Baldwin, " Yet as the cab moved uptown through streets which seemed, with a rush, to darken with dark people, and as I covertly studied Sonny? s face it came to me that what we were both seeking through our separate cab windows was that part of us which had been left behind" (53). This is another example of the critical use of the metaphor in order for the reader to feel the same emotions that the characters are feeling. If Baldwin had written this any other way, the true emotional response of returning home under negative circumstances would not have been achieved. When Baldwin describes this cab ride the reader is immediately catapulted into the mind of the narrator who is trying to figure out his brother that is so entirely different from himself and yet is still of his own flesh and blood. 9; Near the end of the story Baldwin gives us some insight into Sonny's passion for his music.
Once again the excellent use of symbolism and imagery leave nothing to the imagination. When Sonny goes to live with Isabel he plays her piano, and he plays it all the time. He learns to improvise along with the radio and practices furiously, " but it was as though he were all wrapped up in a some cloud, some fire, some vision all his own; and there wasn? t any way to reach him. " (61). This quotation is representative of the struggle that the narrator has with understanding his brother throughout the entire story. Through Baldwin?
s superior writing skill the reader can relate to the problem of two brothers trying to find a common ground. 9; In short, the story " Sonny? s Blues" is a story about two brothers trying to see eye-to- eye, yet the vehicle which carries this story into the heart of the reader is the metaphor, which is used flawlessly by James Baldwin.
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