Families for most people plays a vital role in their life, whether it is from personal development, emotional support, or moral guidance. Family is everything. One would assume, parents are the sole contributor to the development of a child while that may be true, the bond of a brother or sister can be just as significant. This goes beyond a simple bond between a sibling, or the back and forth bickering, no this creates a foundation, a blueprint into a persons life.
This could be understood in the short story Sonnys Blues by James Baldwin. The connection between both the brothers narrative is shown through disunion and narcotic abuse.
Sonnys Blues cornerstone is the connection between Sonny and the unnamed narrator. Although not the strongest connection, a connection is a connection. Sonny and the narrator for most of the story remained in a relatively forced relationship, as the narrator was responsible for caring for Sonny. The relationship does not improve until the passing of their mother, and even then, only really connected because they are siblings.
The narrator realizes his relationship with Sonny when he sees him, many things I had forgotten came flooding back to me. This was because I had finally, begun, to wonder about Sonny, about the life Sonny had lived inside (Sonnys Blues 23). The narrator had a complex connection with family. While he created his perfect family, his relationship with Sonny is weak and he feels bad about watching him suffer, never intervening as his promise to his mother.
Though, through this realization he upholds his promise and starts to care for Sonny unconditionally.
Though the narrator and Sonny never reach that tight-knit togetherness in the story, their relationship also fades away from separation. The narrator promises to care for Sonny in the absence of his mother but is called to war before her passing. While overseas, he pretty well forgot my promise to Mama until I got shipped home on a special furlough for her funeral (Sonnys Blues 30). The narrator knows he is responsible as the older brother to support Sonny, yet hes not fully committed to doing so. Thus, he fails to care for Sonny and distances himself, more concerned with the war efforts than his flesh and blood.
Due to Sonnys isolation, he is thrown into the dark world of narcotics to escape his lifelong negligence. This dark world can consume a person from the mind, body, all the way down to their very soul. Thus, transforming sonny into a junkie, Sonny says, I needed a fix, I needed to find a place to lean, I needed to clear a space to listen- and I couldnt find it (Sonnys Blues 43). Sonnys addiction led to the narrators revelation that some of this is caused by him, he isn’t being the brother that Sonny needed. The final conviction came during one of Sonnys performances, as Sonny plays the piano, the speaker hears what he had gone through, and would continue to go through until he came to rest in the earth (Sonnys Blues 47). Finally, coming to an understanding, the narrator admits his brother’s narcotic abuse is due to the dejection that consumed Sonny because of the narrators lack of care.
Life puts the squeeze on us all, the challenges a person faces in everyday life can be extremely tough. Not having some type of family base to fall back on can be detrimental to your journey through life. Sadly, the two brothers do not so much come across that inseparable bond that is so often seen in families. Nonetheless, they do come to an understanding that the separation and use of drugs played a huge role in the fallout in their relationship through the years. Ultimately driving them to the harsh realism that they will never be that cohesive unit that they both need.