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Music in African-American Texts

Both Baldwin and Wilson utilize music as a pivotal theme within their works. This guide offers an analytical and textual view of how music is represented in both pieces.

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As you compare the two texts, there are various similarities and differences to consider. Here are some ideas to assist you with your assignment:

"Sonny's Blues" depicts music as cathartic or healing. Music serves as a source of therapy; it eventually "saves" Sonny from a life of drugs and despair. He proclaims, And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us longer than the sky. His quote reiterates how he became "reborn" through music.

In addition to the therapeutic benefits upon Sonny's character, Baldwin also uses music to shape Sonny as an artist. Jazz exposes Sonny not just as a dynamic character but also an empathetic one. After the brothers witness the arrest of a street singer, Sonny says, "it struck me all of a sudden how much suffering she must have had to go through -- to sing like that. It's repulsive to think you have to suffer that much." This caring attitude exemplifies Sonny's ...

Solution Summary

The function of music is explored through two literary examples.