Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin Internal and External conflicts

Category: Blues, Jazz, Music, Sonnys Blues
Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin Internal and External conflicts Sonny is a young boy from Harlem struggling with his addiction to heroin and is eventually sent to jail for it. The Narrator, Sonny’s older brother is a high school Algebra teacher who loses connection with Sonny and does not realize where Sonny is till he reads in the newspaper about Sonny being imprisoned. During Sonny’s journey to get back on his feet once he incurs internal and external conflicts along the way.

The series of events leading to Sonny getting back into the real world is really a struggle for him. He tries to find out who he really is and what he should be doing with his life, however along the way it’s not as easy as he would like. With external forces trying to tell him what he should do, such as: His brother, his Mother, and his sister in law’s Mother. His older brother allows him to stay with him until he graduates from college even though that’s not where Sonny’s passion is at. Sonny soon discovers his love for music, Jazz music, and practices every day his piano.

This stirs conflict in the house hold because they soon grow tired of Sonny’s constant practicing. However there are also internal forces effecting the decisions that Sonny makes along the way as well, such as: Fighting his drug abuse, finding himself in what he wants to do , and his love for playing Jazz music on the piano. When the narrator finds out that Sonny wants to become a Jazz pianist he is against it and rather Sonny go to school, because the narrator doesn’t think Sonny can make it in the music industry or that there is no future playing Jazz Music.

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The Narrator and Sonny’s Mother is also and external force because she influenced Sonny’s living situation. Before the Mothers passing she had a conversation with the narrator telling him to watch out, and take care of Sonny. Flashing back to when their Father was alive, he too had a Brother and was killed by a car full of white men that never even bothered to stop. After that event it had their Father all shaken up. And lastly another external force depicted in the story is Sonny’s sister in law’s Mother.

When he was supposed to be going to school he would skip much of the time. Sonny got sent multiple truancy letters and would just hide them. It was then that Sonny’s sister in law’s Mother found one and confronted Sonny about it he told her that he had been going to Greenwich Village hanging out with musicians. It was then that Sonny saw what a burden he had been on the family and decided to join the Navy. Some of the internal conflicts depicted in the story also had a great deal on the decisions Sonny made as well.

One of the main ones would be his drug abuse and addiction to Heroin, which is what landed him in jail in the first place and made his life take the course that it did. Him wanting to find himself also had a great influence on the decisions that he made along the way, such as: Getting lost in his addiction, going to College, hanging out at Greenwich Village to hang out with musicians, and going to the Navy. Lastly, a final internal conflict with Sonny is his love for playing Jazz music on the piano.

This is what drives him the most and realizes it’s what makes him tick and motivated. Practicing countless hours at a time and joining a band at the Village shows how dedicated he was to his dream. Sonny didn’t allow others to make the decision on what he was going to do in the end and just followed his heart because it was what he loved. At Greenwich Village Sonny was a respected musician and many knew him, ultimately it is where he belonged all along.

It’s all of the internal and external conflicts depicted in the story that kept Sonny going. Whether it be the Narrator, Sonny’s Mother, the Sister in law’s Mother, his addiction to Heroin, him wanting to find himself, or his love for playing Jazz music on the Piano. I believe that if it weren’t for all these different forces being presented in Sonny’s life, he wouldn’t have turned into the successful musician that he turned out to be in the end.

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Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin Internal and External conflicts. (2016, Dec 30). Retrieved from

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