Power Of Environment In Edwidge Danticat's And James Baldwin's Stories
Even though poverty and environment are something both of these stories are made of. There is a real difference in how they flow Sonny’s Blues happy ending versus A Wall Of Fire Rising tragic finale. Both stories show the power of the environment and how it influences someone’s character and future.
In sonny’s blues there is a powerful representation of how environment can affect the life of an African American. The story is set in Harlem, a well-known African American neighborhood. Very poor and with little opportunities. Harlem is put in the story as the principal limitation for both sonny and his brother. They feel trapped, that’s why sonny tried to leave to the military. Baldwin portrays Harlem as precise prejudice and pure racism. The broken-down activities are the consequence of segregationist lodging approaches; Housing projects are described as “rocks in the middle of a boiling sea”. The restricted opportunities for the students, which is reflected in the narrator’s head at the beginning of the story, also describe how toxic and damaging the environment is for your future. A big part, if not all, of the suffering in the community is due to the discrimination they encounter daily. The pure proof of racism is when the story of the uncle’s death is told. Being killed by a bunch of drunk white men. Understanding when this story is dated helps to understand the cultural limitations at the time. In the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, "Sonny's Blues" has more extensive political ramifications. The story emphasizes on the significance of embracing your roots.
Sonny represents the universal nature of suffering and the ways drugs and music have helped him cope, he never forgot his roots. He lived through them and learned, he was part of his community. In a wall fire rising, the protagonist named Guy lived a life of regret and self-punishment. For him, opportunity implies having the capacity to acquire a business for his family. He fears resembling his own dad, who was a battling and poor man as long as he can remember. The absence of job openings in their town implies that water and food were limited for the family, and the whole community. They all were suffering the same lack of opportunities. The only way to rise was through the sugar mill. Which is explained in the story that land a job there is almost impossible. Guy wants to put his young kid on the list so when he grows up he might have a chance to work there. Imagine how little opportunities there are. As time goes on and Guy's movement prospects don't upgrade, and he doesn’t find anything better than a part-time job at the sugar mill, he begins to obsess with the Assads' balloon and how for him, it could be freedom.
Again, acknowledging the environment and when the story is dated helps the reader understand the struggle of Guy. This story is placed in Haiti where a corrupt government was in charged. There was a violent regimen, not only physical damage but emotional. Guy kills himself and leaves his family because he can’t continue to live under that type of poverty. Totally in the hands of a government like that. There are NO opportunities of a better life. At least in his point of view. Contrasting these two stories there is a direct connection between Guy and Sonny. Both were unhappy with their life, they weren’t making the best decisions. The environment drove them both to the end of their life. Drugs kill you, flying a hot air balloon alone without any experience might kill you as well. But, sonny found an escape, an escape from his environment, and that was music. Even with music he found a way to make his brother understand what it is to be him and his feeling. Additionally, He found a way to express his pain and disconnect from societies’ injustices and suffering. Jazz for him was life. However, Guy didn’t find this, his “escape” was unrealistic His obsession with a Hot air balloon that was going to take him far, he would build a house, and would start a new life, it’s unrealistic. It is insanity, not a plan. And it led him to his death.
In conclusion people do not recognize the importance of the environment, how influential it can be to your life. It determines whether you study, you work, you eat or even how you sleep. These stories bring to light different ways someone can confront a situation life throws you. You can either fight for a better future, find a temporary escape from reality or just accept what happens to you without changing anything. I wouldn’t have taken either sonny’s nor Guy’s path. I don’t believe drugs are acceptable in any situation nor stealing from the rich. I would have fought and built a better future for myself, but again. I don’t live in the environment these characters did, the situation and what’s around you changes you in every aspect of your life.
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