Monday, January 25, 2010

Sonny's Blues

This story was really sad to me, and way too real. The narrator's life, and to an even greater extent Sonny's life, seemed to be characterized by a series of tragic events. They grew up in a bad area, fell in with the wrong crowd, their father died while they were young. Sonny got involved in a life of drugs that he didn't want to be a part of. They both tried to escape by joining the military, but inevitably returned. Their mother died while Sonny was still young. Before long their children were growing up in all of it, and they knew the children were going to have the same experiences they themselves had growing up. That more than anything would bother me. Then the narrator's daughter died a horrible death at a very young age. It just seemed like their whole lives were just one tragic event after another.

Towards the end of page 37 through the beginning of page 38, it seems the narrator describes his life and the life of everyone around him as a never ending story of poverty, tragedy and hopelessness. Its a cycle that makes people get trapped and make the same mistakes as those before them over and over again. Everyone is a part of it. No one can seem to escape it. Even when they get out, they seem to come right back like Sonny did. Because like it or not, its become who they are and they've got nowhere else to go.

This realization seemed to impact Sonny more than it did his older brother. The narrator seemed to be somewhat at peace with his life, as long as it did not concern Sonny. He seemed to know that he couldn't get out completely, but that he had done the best he could with what he had. He never got involved in the life that Sonny did, and he even said at one point that he supposed someone could say that he "got out" because he was a school teacher. He still lived in the same type of place, but he wasn't so involved in all the bad things that came along with it. The only thing he seemed to not be at peace with was Sonny's life. But I suppose that is okay. He was just playing the part of the older brother. They didn't have parents anymore, so he was the only real person Sonny had to look up to. And Sonny wasn't at peace with his own life, so I wouldn't expect his uptight older brother to be either.

Sonny never had much to rely on. He only really had his music. I thought it was ironic that his music was supposed to be his way out, but it was really what dragged him deeper into that life than he had ever been. The turning point came when he was living at Isabel's, practicing his music and he got into a fight with Isabel's mother. He realized then that nobody really cared about him and they were only taking care of him as a favor to his older brother. So he left, and once he was done with the military he made his inevitable return. By then he didn't fit anywhere except with the musicians. The heroin addicted musicians. By the end of the story, Sonny was as trapped within the musician part of his life as he was with any other part of his life. It was supposed to be his way out, and it only trapped him even more. No matter what he did, Sonny could not escape his life. It was just a sad story of tragic events and hopelessness.

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