The Effects of Light in Sonny’s Blues, a Short Story by James Baldwin

Light transforms, ruins, and raises experiences and thoughts throughout ‘Sonny’s Blues’, by James Baldwin. Sonny and his brother, the storyteller, grew up in the ‘dark’ atmosphere of Harlem and its real estate tasks and weakening, drug-ridden streets. The procedure of maturing, of losing their parents, and of living amidst both light and darkness had actually shaped both the narrator and Sonny. Baldwin utilizes light, and its counter, darkness, to present the difficulties and hopes of the adult and boyhood days of the lead characters. If there is one line that summarizes the point that Baldwin communicates through this images, it is, “All that hatred and suffering and love. It’s a wonder it doesn’t blow the avenue apart” (pg 639). Through Sonny and his bro, we can see that light and dark can be created, like hatred and love. Light and dark show the standard human experience; they are primeval elements of the world that have always contrasted, however in this story, Baldwin brings them together.

The storyteller’s youth in Harlem was an experience that influenced him to be an instructor, and provided Sonny to have the desire to get as far from his home town as possible; this can be translucented the use of light and darkness. In the very first passage, whatever surrounding the young boys while growing up is darkness. Their lives just lead into the darkness. The films are a literal darkness that helps them leave their lives for a few hours, however in the end just make the literal darkness of life in Harlem even much deeper. This very same views on life in Harlem were echoed in the Storyteller’s youth, “And when light fills the room, the kid is filled with darkness … moved a little closer to the darkness outside … what the seniors have actually been discussing” (pg 623). Through the passage, and this quote, we see that the general view is that light -like the motion pictures pointed out in the very first passage- just misguides a kid, drawing him far from the extreme truth that will be his life, which “seniors” have actually experienced already. In action to this, the narrator attempts to eliminate himself psychologically from his environment by becoming a mathematics instructor, by marrying, and even by cutting off his bro for a couple of years. He believes that if he overlooks his within, he can get away the darkness; however rather, he brings more darkness in. Sonny scares the narrator because he changes between “intense and open” (pg 613) and “all the light in his face. headed out” (pg 614). Sonny is linked to his lights and darknesses through drugs, and then through music; these are both parts of Sonny’s life that the storyteller can not comprehend or accept for the majority of the story.

The narrator’s view of light and dark culminates in the 2nd passage, and after that point. It is a surprise for the narrator, and for Sonny. The storyteller fears for Sonny, for his “perishing inflame”, for his inner fire to take over and burn him out, like what nearly occurred with his heroin addictions. He pertains to comprehend that light and darkness exist together in the real life, with different downsides and advantages, simply as they both exist within Sonny. The storyteller starts by being downright petrified of the light, and when Sonny and his fellow musicians cross into the light, it resembles a barrier is broken in his mind that allows the storyteller to finally understand. He finally saw Sonny delighted, and saw him smiling. He saw Sonny as a god, a creator of his own world. Despite all of the darkness that Sonny has inside of him, and in his past, he is able to welcome the light and not hesitate. Sonny was “so touched he might have cried” in this minute and he “put his hand to his heart”; it is the conclusion of 2 psychological reactions, crying is combined with love for what he does. Even the keys of the piano are light and dark and lie next to each other. The piano is lovely and real and emotional with all of its lights and darknesses, the exact same opts for Sonny’s music, and the very same goes for his and the storyteller’s lives.

The symbol of light establishes as the bros start to understand each other and themselves more. Sonny began by “… attempting to climb out of some deep, genuine deep, and cool hole and just saw the sun up there, outside.” (pg 618). The narrator began by seeing “the darkness growing versus the windowpanes” (pg 622) throughout his youth. In the two passages, we see that the narrator initially saw darkness all over, however through Sonny’s music and true emotion, the storyteller starts to understand that light will not trigger anybody to “die”. Rather, some light- and some pure optimism- is part of life.

Making use of light and darkness draws to a conclusion on the last page; Sonny’s music was “burning”, and yet “trouble stretched above [them], longer than the sky”. The final line portrays Sonny as “glowing”. A male who plainly had much darkness in his life, and who will probably have comparable darknesses in his future, still has the potential and skill to “radiance”. Dark and light are the struggles of life that are illustrated in “Sonny’s Blues”; from this we see that light can be too extreme, and darkness can be the truth that should be accepted. They exist together and balance each other: one can not live in pure light, as Sonny tried through his music, heroin, and desire to go beyond; one can not reside in deep darkness, as the storyteller attempted through suppressing his emotions. Sonny certainly did have his darknesses, and the narrato had his lights.