Analysis of Bigotry Presented in Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin

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Words: 1260 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Words: 1260|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Bigotry is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another. Bigotry was a huge deal in the 20th century as racism became socially taboo, America’s peculiar phenomenon morphed again, into an interlocking complex of institutional practices that present a new set of extraordinary challenges for black Americans. The short story 'Sonny's Blues' written by James Baldwin considers how society is today, explicitly institutional bigotry. Institutional bigotry portrays the manner by which individuals experience the ill effects of prejudice, since it is there in the structure of society structures like the police, the lawful framework, organizations, etc., as the story happens in Harlem in the 20th century.

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We have two brothers, but in this story, we see them as very different people with their own life values and points of view. Each of them owns individual problems and conflicts and in the process of interaction and approaching to one friendly family, they stumble upon some new challenging situations and conflict. The major conflict for Sonny is heroin addiction and constant suffering, he does not have enough willingness, inner power and self-control to live better, not only for the sale of himself but also for the sake of his family and people who really care about him. Sonny’s blues questions start to arise themselves from the story in order to solve a lot of problems which are too close to our current society and deserves to be discussed, explored and addressed. James Baldwin brilliantly organized the plot and selected the right characters to raise the problems. Prejudice is the dim inclination that courses through 'Sonny's Blues'. It is infrequently referenced straightforwardly yet its draw can be felt constantly. For instance, Baldwin mentions decrepit housing projects that rise out of Harlem like 'rocks in the middle of the boiling sea'. The aftereffect of neighborhood and government segregationist lodging strategies, the undertakings speak to the effect of bigotry on a down trodden network.

In like manner, a significant part of the storyteller's nervousness for the benefit of his understudies can be ascribed to the way that they, similar to Sonny, are youthful African American men living in a framework that mercilessly and interminably oppresses them. What inspired Baldwin to publish this book in 1957 was after the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education; however, it was not really until the Civil Rights Act of 1960 signed by President Eisenhower that desegregation started to have some impact since several states had defied the previous rulings. On May 24, 1963, James Baldwin himself assembled a group of black leaders who met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to discuss race relations. He had grown up in Harlem, which he described as a 'dreadful place... a kind of concentration camp' because it was 'dehumanizing.', says the attorney. With that be being said it gives Baldwin an insight that due to racism people especially African Americans are mostly seen in poverty areas with little to lose during that time period. Bigotry can have a social affect to a person as it can cause them to suffer in their current lifestyle. As Baldwin passionately argues, inescapable. This suffering is symbolized throughout the work by darkness, which encroaches upon the lives of the narrator's family and community, something to be borne and endured. Sonny explains that his heroin usage is an attempt to cope with suffering that would otherwise paralyze him. Yet suffering, for all the pain it causes, is essential to both art and redemption. Sonny comments on 'how much suffering must have had to go through' in order to sing so beautifully.

One can imagine that Sonny's music comes from similarly dark experiences. Suffering and darkness, if used creatively, can produce works of unparalleled beauty. Suffering also confers the ability to understand and feel true compassion for others, which is essential for redemption. In like manner, Prejudice can take numerous structures and influences a huge number of individuals in Ireland today. There's the conspicuous ordinary bigotry, where individuals are called names, manhandled and annoyed. At that point, there's the sort of prejudice that is increasingly unpretentious. This is the sort of bigotry that makes it harder for individuals to land positions or lodging in light of their shading or nationality. All types of bigotry include making presumptions and speculations or generalizations about individuals who are an alternate shading. These generalizations frequently see other individuals as second rate, and are utilized to legitimize the rejection of individuals from circumstances, assets and power. Indeed, even today, the specialists, a few legislators and segments of the media will elevate supremacist thoughts to legitimize their perspectives on specific issues. These might incorporate joblessness, lodging deficiencies and wrongdoing. As per the ESRI, in 2006 25% of dark individuals state they' have been racially mishandled or compromised over the most recent a year'. This can relate how sonny was perpetrating a wrongdoing by mishandling drugs because of experiencing prejudice and being an untouchable to a white men society. Ireland social issue with bigotry is where Ms. Fitzgerald gives a brief description of Ireland as monocultural ignores its small indigenous black population, the increasing numbers of European, African, Asian and Middle-Eastern residents in the country, as well as 21,000 Irish travelers, all of whom live with prejudice and discrimination. Her own sense 'of not belonging and of not being fully understood,' she says, made her question 'whether I had the right to bring a child, whose cultural origins would be as complex as my own, into such an unthinking society. 'My experience of racism in Ireland began as a student,' she recalls. 'In a small city where black women were virtually non-existent, I was particularly conspicuous on and off campus. My middle class, black femaleness was perceived as `exotic', `exciting', `dangerous'. I was stared at, often to the point of rudeness, particularly when walking through the college canteen, a torture I soon gave up.” These feelings of 'inferiority and unacceptable difference' continued when she began to work in Ireland, and later when she married an Irishman.

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The text relates back to how the Narrator and Sonny is suffering from the world they live in, and pain they endured their entire life “The darkness outside is what the old folks have been talking about. It's what they've come from. It's what they endure. The child knows they won't talk anymore because if he knows too much about what's happened to them, he'll know too much too soon, about what's going to happen to him”, which indicates suffering can pass down from one generation to the next. The parents want to protect the children for as long as they can, but they know that suffering will be an inevitable part of their lives. But for now, the children can remain blissfully ignorant of what's looming ahead. James Baldwin accomplished many things through the writing and publishing of “Sonny’s Blues.” Not only does the story serve as a memoir into the lives of African Americans in Harlem during the 1950’s, but also the story portrays the struggles that are often faced in relationships in regards to ethical and moral values and responsibilities. Taking everything into account, Sonny's blues can consider what is as yet happening today In Ireland where the individuals who lives still experience the ill effects of institutional bigotry as of 2019.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Analysis of Bigotry Presented in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Analysis of Bigotry Presented in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020,
Analysis of Bigotry Presented in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Analysis of Bigotry Presented in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Dec 10 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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