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The Brotherly Connection Of Sonny Blues English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 991 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Both stories show the importance in having that brotherly connection and a desire to be accepted by the one you admire. In “Sonny’s Blues,” it is established that all Sonny wants is for his brother to understand and accept his way of life. Even though the narrator does in fact care for his younger brother, Sonny, he sees it as more of a promise to his mother that “I won’t let nothing happen to Sonny” (Baldwin 218), which gave the narrator more of an incentive to just watch Sonny rather than being there and listening to his brother, when he needed it most, ultimately severely hurting Sonny., Throughout the story Sonny cries out for his brother’s attention and acceptance. In the midst of a significant conversation with one another Sonny blatantly says, “I hear you. But you never hear anything I say” (Baldwin 221) and which could be one of the narrator’s biggest mistakes. The narrator once gain ignores what Sonny is saying and starts explaining to Sonny how he will live while his brother is away at war. Experiencing the lack of his brother’s affection evidently turned Sonny severely against his brother, and turned his attention to an environment where he knew he’d be accepted, playing jazz with the “good-time people” (Baldwin 219). That choice was not made entirely by Sonny; it was formed by his experiences during childhood. Sonny plays music not only to express himself fully but also to replace the drugs that he is trying to escape from. Sonny’s choice of music reflects his attitude towards life and his experiences, and if only his brother can take a moment to listen to that, instead of instantly judging Sonny, their relationship could have been a lot less deficient throughout the years.

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The need for acceptance between brothers is also portrayed in “The Red Convertible,” at the same time the reason for their separation is not as preventable as in “Sonny’s Blues.” Unlike his brother Lyman, who was lucky when it came to numbers, Henry “ws never lucky in the same way” (Erdrich, 236) and was picked for the draft shortly after returning from their summer road trip. About three years had passed until they’d met again, only for Lyman to discover that Henry wasn’t the same when he returned from the war. Frustrated and upset about what happened to Henry, Lyman desperately tried to find a way to bring back his old brotherly connection. Symbolic to their relaitonship, Lyman went out to the car and “ran the piss right out of it” (Erdrich 238) in hopes that it would bring back whatever was left of Henry. When Lyman intentionally damaged the car so that Henry would have to fix it, Henry understood what Lyman was trying to do for him. Rather than responding with anger or bitterness, he fixed the car so that Lyman would have it. Henry knew how lonesome the effect of war left himself, and Lyman also noticing just how different the war made him, they both slowly came to reality to the beginning of the end of their relationship.

The brothers in “Sonny’s Blues” and “The Red Convertible” both have a point in time where they grow apart and experience a major life changing occurrence. Despite Sonny’s arrest and misfortune it takes the death of the narrator’s daughter to finally get a better understanding of his brother. It seems that the narrator could better understand Sonny now, and has decided to write to his brother. In “The Red Convertible” Lyman destroys the car as he views his and Henry’s relationship. Henry understands what Lyman is trying to do for him, and shows his brother that he still cares. The capability to put their differences behind them and restore an old connection that was once so significant can be evident in one’s want to finally change.

Unfortunately some unexpected cases of events are bound to happen, that we either have no control over or as bad as it may seem, are better off. It is not until now tha tLyman realizes that Henry and he will never gain back that tight bond that they once shared. When Henry jumps into the water, in a strange way, he is showing Lyman that he is doing all he can to be the old Henry. You can dryly put it together that Lyman understands his brother’s decision to end his life, in his actions following his brother’s “suicide.” The sinking of the red convertible symbolizes the end of Henry and Lyman’s relationship and creates a very ironic end to what was once a very strong bond among two brothers.

On the contrary, these two brothers had another chance to take up again that connection they once had. After finally beginning to understand Sonny for who he truly is, the narrator steps inside of Sonny’s atmosphere, so to speak. Upon entering the Jazz club and meeting all of Sonny’s acquaintances, the narrator is impressed and seems very fond of how well liked and appreciated his little brother is. The most important and influential person the narrator meets is Creole, upon meeting him the narrator says one of the most significant statements of the whole story. This is the point where the narrator finaly comes to a true appreciation about who Sonny truly is, not only as a person but for the true talent that he expresses in his music.

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Due to the hardships of separation and neglicence, both brothers understand the certainty of their relationships after drugs and neglecting are incorporated into the situation. Although both stories do not give the same opportunity to find a way to revive the old beat up relationship, both pairs of brothers finally realized the importance of being there for one another. The way the two brothers reuinte through addiciton, memories and strife make their bond seem stronger than ever.


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