What is Baldwin saying about suffering in "Sonny's Blues?"

Expert Answers info

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

"Suffering" is one of the main themes of "Sonny's Blues," by James Baldwin.

Baldwin may be pointing out that there are many kinds of suffering, and that one person's suffering is not necessarily harder or easier than another person's: it is all relative. Sometimes we may, as a part of the human condition, feel that our suffering is harder to bear than that of another, but how can we ever know, and does it matter?

In Baldwin's story, suffering affects the lives of the narrator and his family. A car filled with drunken white men ran down the narrator's uncle. His death haunts the narrator's father—brother to the dead man. In fact, the father becomes so hardened by his suffering, that he hates white people.

This car was full of white men. They was all drunk, and when they seen your father's brother they let out a great whoop and holler and they aimed the car straight at him. They was just having fun, they just wanted to scare him, the way they do sometimes, you know. But they was drunk.


(The entire section contains 641 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial