Does he believe we ever rise above our own individual “Harlems?”


“Sonny’s Blues”James BaldwinPre-Write: At the center of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” lies an exploration of the theme—transcendence, that is one’s ability to rise above adverse conditions in his/her own individual past. In a paragraph or two please respond to the following: Do you believe it is possible to rise above…totally cut-loose one’s own past. For example, does an alcoholic ever stop being an alcoholic even if he/she has stopped drinking? To be posted in Forum.Text: Read Essay on the Harlem Renaissance (in Documents and resources).Read James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” (in text) and answer the following content questions:Setting: Identify textual warrants that depict how Baldwin paints his version of Harlem in this story–focus on imagery that deals with darkness or violence.Characters: Do a character profile (paragraph or two) on each of the principle characters in “Sonny’s Blues”–the narrator and Sonny–what motivates these characters? What does each value? Do either “rise above his individual “Harlem” (adverse past) if so where do you see it in the story?Plot: This story is told in FLASHBACK—not chronologically. First, look up the literary term flashback. Then–deconstruct this story and re-assemble in true chronology—identify the 8 most important plot points and arrange them in chronological order. Complete this list (I’ll give numbers 1 and 8):1. Narrator’s uncle is killed out on that country road. Narrator goes to hear Sonny play (last 3 paragrapahs) he has an epiphany. (Now fill in #’2 2-6)Theme: Re-read that last scene. What does the narrator come to realize? What is Baldwin’s prespective on “transcendence?” Does he believe we ever rise above our own individual “Harlems?”

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