A Brother's Perception Essay

1127 words - 5 pages

In "Sonny's Blues", Sonny is the narrator's brother who has just been released from jail for using and distributing heroin. His brother, the narrator, holds a position as a math teacher at a school near his house where he lives with his wife and children. He is someone who has led an honorable life and "escaped Harlem" (86) in a respectable manner. Later in the story, Sonny's brother looks back a few years earlier. In those days, the narrator perceived himself as the older brother who needed to watch out for and guide Sonny whether it was in Sonny's best interest or not. He thought that since he is the big brother, he knows what is best for Sonny more than Sonny does. This perception of himself makes him perceive Sonny as a misdirected and immature boy who needs to start "[being] serious" (91) about his life, follow the narrator's command, and find direction.Sonny's brother, like all brothers, was very protective of Sonny and cared very much for him. He doesn't want Sonny getting mixed in with the darkness of Harlem. Sonny and the narrator got into arguments regularly because he didn't like the decisions Sonny made. The narrator felt like a father figure to Sonny because their father was dead. Narrator said, "When [Sonny] started to walk, he walked from our mother straight to me. I caught him just before he fell when he took the first steps he ever took in this world" (85). He was worried about his brother because of the story his mother told him. She told the story of his father's brother that Sonny and the narrator never knew about. One night when his father and uncle were drinking, and they were going down a hill the lead the road. His uncle was using the bathroom when some white men saw him and ran him over. This story particularly scared the narrator because his uncle and Sonny seemed to be alike.The narrator starts thinking that Sonny is not taking his life seriously when the two are having a conversation about Sonny's career plans. He tells his brother to "Be serious" (91) because he was asking questions about Sonny's future plans, and all Sonny wanted to do was laugh and be childish the whole time the two were having the conversation. Being continually made angry by Sonny's remarks, the narrator finally says, "Well, you may think it's funny now, baby, but it's not going to be funny when you have to make you living at it, let me tell you that" (91). When the narrator finally retrieves information about his brother wanting to be a jazz musician, he says, "Are you serious?" (91). He believes that Sonny is just going through a childhood phase and tries to tell him, but Sonny is a grown boy and insists that he wants to play the piano for a living. The narrator tells Sonny, "you know people can't always do exactly what they want. . ." (92) and Sonny's comment to that was, "No, I don't know that" (92). Sonny is treated like he is still an immature child that has no sense of direction. When the narrator discovers that Sonny doesn't want to live...

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