Familial Neglect in Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”


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Essay #: 065657
Total text length is 5,911 characters (approximately 4.1 pages).

Excerpts from the Paper

The beginning:
Familial Neglect in Baldwin’s "Sonny’s Blues"
As James Baldwin’s short story Sonny’s Blues begins, the titular protagonist (younger brother of the narrator) has been busted for trafficking in heroin and soon will be sent to a detoxification unit. Several factors account for Sonny’s predicament, all of which are related either to his slum environment or familial indifference (i.e., lack of moral support), or both, as this paper will demonstrate.
One reason Sonny resorts to drugs, apart from their accessibility in the ghetto, is that poverty and hopelessness are prevalent in Harlem. The narrator, who is a teacher, remarks sadly that it is conceivable that even his own students are in the habit of “popping off needles” whenever they feel like...
The end:
.....stripped him naked and were spitting on that nakedness.”
The above examples show how easy it is for a young man – especially an idealistic young man living in the slums -- to become discouraged and desperate. In Sonny’s Blues, the factors that lead to that discouragement are all environmental; they include not only his poor and decrepit surroundings, but familial indifference as well – all of which quash his musical aspirations. This familial indifference is, in effect, a form of neglect (and arguably abuse). If Sonny had received moral support and encouragement from them, instead of disapproval, he likely would not have turned to drugs for escape.
Link to the story: http://www.scribd.com/doc/7086554/Sonnys-Blues-by-James-Baldwin