Baldwin’s The American Dream and the American Negro speech appeals to the White southerners, accusing them of racism towards African-Americans. The concept of plague is used by the author to reflect hatred and immorality, which make them look down on people that have a different skin color: “moral lives … destroyed by the plague called color”. The readers’ perception of the problem can be associated with racial discrimination as a disease that hurts African-Americans, while Whites cannot even understand it. In Sonny’s Blues, Baldwin connects the concept of plague with a darkness phenomenon.
specifically for you
for only $16.05 $11/page
For example, speaking of students, it is stated that ‘”all they really knew were … darkness of their lives … and darkness of the movies” (126). Even though they are expected to graduate the high school soon, the students realize that their opportunities are strictly limited. Therefore, many people prefer to watch movies to distract from the real world, but they are also full of inescapable darkness.
The speech by Baldwin also calls to take action to address hatred towards African-Americans. Criticizing the American Dream, the author proposes sympathy creation and invites African-Americans to take drastic measures and stay strong. Sonny’s Blues echoes these ideas: the main character’s brother plays bebop music that is regarded as a symbol of change.
When the group plays, it becomes closer to light that refers to a brighter future for the entire African-American community. Although they cannot immediately escape the darkness, they improvise and learn to move forward, as if following Baldwin’s prophecy. Thus, the concepts and ideas expressed by Baldwin in The American Dream and the American Negro are reflected in Sonny’s Blues’ characters and messages.
Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” Write Me a Few of Your Lines: A Blues Reader, edited by Steven Carl Tracy, University of Massachusetts Press, 1999, pp. 122-148.
Baldwin, James. “The American Dream and the American Negro.” The New York Times. 1965. Web.