The opposition of light and darkness is often paired with the opposition of inside and outside.Sonny’s problem as an artist is that inside himself he feels intensely the storm of human passion; to feel whole and free, he must bring this storm outside by gaining artistic control over it, by articulating it for some listener.The narrator repeatedly associates light with the desire to articulate or give form to the needs and passions that arise out of inner darkness.He also opposes light as an idea of order to darkness in the world, the chaos that adults endure, but of which they normally cannot speak to children.
Baldwin’s third novel, Another Country (1962), received mixed reviews but went on nonetheless to sell millions of copies.
Baldwin turned toward literary criticism as he struggled to make a career for himself as a writer.
Frustrated with life in America, Baldwin left New York for Paris, where he met some of the most noted writers and philosophers of the era, including Saul Bellows and the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.
Nonetheless, the stories in the collection, “Sonny’s Blues” in particular, demonstrate Baldwin’s ability to transform his social and political concerns into art.
In “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin takes on Harlem’s deterioration, religion, drug addiction, and post–World War II America all at the same time.