Sonny’s Blues

The authors of “Everyday Use” and “Sonny’s Blues” portray a demonstration that explores both sibling and parental relationships that constantly induce love and conflict with one another. Alice Walker, whom wrote “Everyday Use”, shows conflicts through Dee, a modern way of life type of girl, and her mother, a traditional African woman. In “Sonny’s Blues”, James Baldwin tells a tale of Sonny, a heroine addict who loves music, whoms brother does not approve of his simplistic lifestyle. These stories illustrates a central idea of the family traditions and influence versus new and present life.

In “Everyday Use”, Alice Walker depicts many differences between culture and present day life by using Dee and Mama. Dee is a materialistic girl that lives for a modern and innovative way of life. She only sees her African roots and culture as an appeal. Mama is Dee’s mother, who is an African woman that knows the significance of their heritage and appreciates the importanc of what it means to them.

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These two characters consistently have conflicting ideas on how they should incorperate their heritage in modern life.

This was shown when Dee asked for the quilts that were made from generation to generation from Mama. Those quilts even dated back to the Civil War. The quilts are important because they are one of Mama and their family’s few treasures and Dee wanted to hang them up on the wall like a museum piece. At the same time Mama actually promisesd Maggie, Dee’s sister, the quilts. Maggie gives the quilts to Dee but Mama snatches the quilts from Dee’s hands to prevent her from taking them and hangs them. Mama and Maggie value the quits because they remind of family while Dee only cares for its artistic value.

At the end of the story, Dee leaves with her boyfriend to college while Mama and Maggie simply cannot stop her and watch her depart. This scene shows just how much Mama wants Dee to appreciate her heritage but just cannot stop Dee’s new modern take on life. James Baldwin opens the story with the narrator, who is Sonny’s brother. Throughout the story his brother constantly worries about his brother Sonny especially after Sonny’s heroine bust. The brother has a succeeded as an African man living in the post-World Warr II. He has a wife, two kids and a

fulfilling job as a teacher. He has always been aware of Harlem’s more mischievious side and wants to change it. Sonny on the other hand has always been in the shadow of being a poor black African man in a bad community. His dream of being a jazz pianist and a musician conflicts his brothers idea of being sucessful. Sonny’s brother only wants what is best for his brother as shown when Sonny is forced to live with his in-laws until Sonny graduated from college. Despite this arrangement Sonny attempts to get a degree but never actually spent any time doing so.

Instead he would just play the piano and skipped school, often to go hang out with other musicians in Greenwich Village. Sonny’s brother only wanted what was best for Sonny but the jazzy musician only wanted his one saving grace, music. Throughout the story Sonny’s brother watches Sonny’s impulsive actions and questions them greatly. One day Sonny urges his brother to watch him play at a small jazz club. The brother does so, and only then he realizes the struggles Sonny goes through. He finally accepts who Sonny is and what he is all about. Both stories use family to portray an understanding between a tradition and present day life.

Dee and Sonny share a common interest in how they live their lives, rather then follow the traditions of their family. Dee went for education and innovation while Mama stuck to traditional roots. Sonny kept with his dream of being a jazz musician despite all of his troubles and his brothers urges to acquire a college degree. In the end these characters are finally accepted by their families after the struggles the family realizes they go through. Dee and Sonny, even in different circumstances, end their stories the way they dreamed of, their own way.

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