What literary elements are used in "Sonny's Blues" including reference to connotative language?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Literary elements, a category of literary devices, are common to all literature. This is in contrast to literary techniques among which a writer chooses freely as they are not common to all literature. To illustrate this, a literary element is theme, another is conflict: These are common to all literature. A literary technique is onomatopoeia (words that sound like an action or happening, e.g., "the clap of thunder"), another is personification (endowing inanimate objects like hats or apples with human powers, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, etc): These are not common to all literature.

In the short story "Sonny's Blues" James Baldwin employs, along with other ones, the structural elements of theme, point of view, setting, narrator, protagonist, dynamic character, Man versus Society conflict, conflict, plot, foreshadowing, suspense, complication, crisis, climax, resolution. Connotative language is part of the diction the writer chooses. In "Sonny's Blues," Baldwin chooses middle (daily talking style of educated people) and low diction (uses colloquialisms, idiomatic phrases, slang, contractions, and may contain grammar and vocabulary and syntax errors). Connotative language is emotional language that elicits an emotional response from the reader, like in the resolution of the story in which the narrator and the reader both come to see that Sonny rises above his suffering--if only for a while--through the music he plays.

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