Feeling of Imprisonment in Sonny's Blues Research Proposal

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Sonny's Blues

Imprisonment in "Sonny's Blues"

There are a several large themes at work in James Baldwin's short story "Sonny's Blues." Simply on a surface level, it deals with issues of family obligations vs. personal independence, drug addiction, and race -- not exactly in terms of direct inequality, but in the struggle of the African-American community in Harlem to provide real opportunities to its next generation. These issues are also symbolically dealt with through Sonny's music and his heroin addiction, which are seen often as more parallel than oppositional. A common motif in all of these issues, both in life and in the story, is a sense of being trapped or imprisoned, which is the flip=side of being in control. Instead of having true powers of self-direction and choice, the characters in the story -- Sonny, his brother the narrator, and several other tangential characters -- are all trapped by a world that forces them to make certain choices and to behave in certain ways, and that will not let them escape.Download full
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TOPIC: Research Proposal on Feeling of Imprisonment in Sonny's Blues Assignment

One passage that clearly illustrates this feeling of Imprisonment comes quite early in the story, setting up the motif right from the beginning moments of the story. After learning that his brother has been arrested for something related to his heroine use, the narrator reflects on the boys of Harlem that he tries to teach algebra to in his job as a school teacher: "These boys, now, were living as we'd been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities" (Baldwin par. 5). This passage makes it explicitly clear that the themes of imprisonment, struggle, and hopelessness are not unique to the main characters of the story, but in fact extend with the same level of intensity and detail to the entire community of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Feeling of Imprisonment in Sonny's Blues."  15 October 2009.  Web.  16 January 2022. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/feeling-imprisonment-sonny-blues/5081>.

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"Feeling of Imprisonment in Sonny's Blues."  Essaytown.com.  October 15, 2009.  Accessed January 16, 2022.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/feeling-imprisonment-sonny-blues/5081.