Sonny’s Blues and Araby talk about two boys in their adolescent stage who struggles to be understood by the people around them. The main characters in their stories represent the author themselves. A mirror of their personality and aspirations in life. How they stood up for something to be recognized and to fit into the world that they aspire. Everyone dreams of a happy life and a contented one. Even though one is white and the other is black, both writers strive and combat discrimination, rejection and deepest fears just to have self-confidence and self fulfillment. And in the end they won in their fight for survival and become popular of their chosen profession.
Sonny’s Blues and Araby present interpretation of an object or idea. In Sonny’s Blues, Baldwin uses “the cup of trembling” that symbolizes the character’s suffering in life. It is taken from the book of Isaiah:
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This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, Who stretches out the Heavens Who lays the foundations of the Earth, and Who forms the spirit of man within him declares, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zech 12:1-3).
In Araby it is the Araby itself- a bazaar- where different people are assembled and gathered to buy things they needed for everyday living and also vanity. The main character goes to Araby to buy something for his crush but ended up to nothing because the bazaar has been closed due to his imagination that carried him away unmindful of the time.
The themes on both stories are alienation and loneliness. James Baldwin uses a character in the story which is Sonny’s brother to narrate while in Araby it is James Joyce himself. Both setting contrive to the development of the story.
In our every day’s quest for finding ourselves. Sonny’s Blues and Araby can be our baseline and it will help a lot because it is reflected in the story, a real-life scenario and we can distinguished in ourselves the right path to follow. We should look beyond what our eyes could see, our ears could hear, our mouth could speak but feel our heart that says let us not discriminate rather understand the diversities in life.
Youth should break the glass but they should make sure that the freedom they have will justify their actions in society, environment and themselves.
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Kaiser, Otto. Isaiah 1-12: A Commentary. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.