Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sonny’s Blues Analysis

Sonny’s Blues Analysis

            Baldwin’s short story, Sonny’s Blues, is masterful piece of literature that explores addiction and the ties that bind our familial obligations. To truly appreciate this composition, one must first delve into the historical context of the times. When this was written African American were still suffering from Jim Crow Laws. America was deeply divided and segregated, and many African Americans lived in poverty. The story takes place in Harlem which at the time was the cultural hub for African Americans.  Harlem also faced a decline and was home to many housing projects that were homes to the poverty-stricken community.       
            Sonny’s brother, who remains nameless through out the story, is the narrator of the short story. I believe Baldwin’s omission of his name is intentional. This allows for the focus to be placed on the main subject of the story, which is the narrator’s little brother, Sonny. Sonny’s Blues was a beautiful story about a man’s journey of self-reflection and learning about his brother’s addiction. As with many eldest siblings, the narrator felt an obligation to look out for his younger brother. The obligation was also solidified by his mother’s request, (pg. 300) “You got to hold on to your brother,” she said. “and don’t let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you get with him. You going to be evil with him many a time. But don’t you forget what I told you, you hear?” Throughout the story you see that the relationship between the two siblings is strained. There is a seven-year generational gap, a different taste in musical predilections, and also status. The narrator at the time is settled with a job, wife, and children. Sonny on the other hand is neither of those things and is struggling to find his place in the world as well as within his passion for jazz music.

The story resonated with me as a former addict. Sonny’s struggle with addiction was told so eloquently.  Sonny’s Blues (pg. 308), “While I was downstairs before, on my way here, listening to that woman sing, 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 that you have to suffer that much.” Experience is subjective and carries with it the criteria of using personal knowledge. My personal knowledge of addiction allows me to view this story with a different lens. In the beginning of the story, (pg. 293) we catch a glimpse of how the narrator truly feels toward those who struggle with addiction, “But now, abruptly, I hated him. I couldn’t stand the way he looked at me, partly like a dog, partly like a cunning child. I wanted to ask him what the hell he was doing in the school courtyard.” With this statement, one can sense his anger and resentment. One can sense the narrator’s false prediction of the immediate usurping of truth, happiness, and health. Interpretation uses four related intellectual acts: observing, connecting, inferring, and concluding. As one interprets Baldwin’s work, one can observe the disconnect between the two brothers. One can infer that the disconnect that the age gap may have been a reason for the emotional distance between the brothers. One may also infer the guilt that Sonny’s brother has for not watching over him more. His mother had requested that he look out for his younger brother. We also conclude that having seen Sonny perform in his musical element, Sonny’s brother has a better understanding of his struggle and how music plays are part in his recovery (pg. 310) “Here, it was not even a question that his veins bore royal blood.” Lastly, as the evaluation of Sonny’s Blues continues, one can judge the quality of work based on how effective the story telling was and how engaged the audience is with it. The reader’s values and morals come into play upon evaluation as well. Evaluation may change over time as perceptions of life change.

The truth of suffering amongst addicts is never looked upon with empathy. How Baldwin infuses music as redemption yet pivots the description as music being another drug was unparalleled. Addicts tend to trade one vice for another. Music symbolized many things in Baldwin’s story. For Sonny, music was a form of escape from the life of an addict. Sonny’s passion for music is evidenced by Sonny playing on the piano for hours on end, (pg. 304) “Neither did they dare to make a great scene about that piano because even they dimly sensed, as I sensed, from so many thousands of miles away, that Sonny was at that piano playing for his life.” Baldwin also conveyed music as a rite of passage, a way of finding oneself, (pg. 312) “Creole wasn’t trying any longer to get Sonny in the water. He was wishing him Godspeed. Then he stepped back, very slowly, filling the air with immense suggestion that Sonny speak for himself.”

Sonny’s openness to attempt to explain his addiction exemplified a truth and vulnerability that is often overlooked when addicts relapse, (pg 307) “her voice reminded me for a minute of what  heroin feels like sometimes – when it’s in your veins. It makes you feel sort of warm and cool at the same time. And distant. And – and sure.” The dialogue between the two brothers is pivotal in the storyline as the reader is able to understand Sonny’s point of view firsthand. Since the story is then narrated by Sonny’s brother, we also get the narrators innermost thought to Sonny’s interaction. Even though dialogue is used sparingly in this story, the reader is still able to glean information from the characters and the narrator’s point of view.

How Does Single Parenthood Impact Gender Equity in the Workplace

How Does Single Parenthood Impact Gender Equity in the Workplace

Society has been trying to fight gender inequality since what seems like the beginning of time. Even the Bible did not believe in gender equity. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11–12, New International Version). More recently, in 2009 when President Barack Obama was still in office, the very first piece of legislation that he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This act made it easier for people to challenge unequal pay. From the Bible to modern day politics, the issue of gender inequality has been at the forefront. Many factors contribute to gender inequality; however, single parenthood impacts gender equity in the work place more.

Steven Netcoh, a Postdoctoral Associate with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at The University of Vermont states that, “HCT is a framework that examines the relationships between education, economic growth, and social well-being. It is an extension of the capital concept and posits that expenditures on education, job training, and health are capital investments that will yield economic and social returns at the individual and societal levels.” If people were valued based on the Human Capital Theory, women alone would have the advantage because women are able to produce life and nurture a living being from inception to birth and beyond.  Despite women’s selfless contributions to humanity, society continues to assign limiting gender roles to them. Some of these roles include that of a  caretaker, wife, cleaner , teacher, and counselor. Women are to be nurturing, they are to take care of the household. Women are expected to cook, to clean, and to look beautiful while doing it. 

Women are also often assigned roles that require unpaid emotional labor. Women are to have a balanced and calm temperament and should seek the role of counselor or mediator. When a situation arises where feelings are involved, women are often volunteered to “fix” the problem. In the workplace, when someone is having an emotional issue, it is often the woman who is sent to nurture and “mother” the person. When the dynamics in a work setting are challenged, a woman is usually set to diffuse the situation. These are all instances that are commonplace and expected of women.    

Women are also expected to take care of the family and run the household. Household chore’s are devalued and seen as “women’s work”. Women are expected to work full time at home and full time at the workplace. Magnusson, Charlotta, and Magnus Nermo authors of “Gender, Parenthood and Wage Differences: The Importance of Time-Consuming Job Characteristics” state that  “In other words, it is reasonable to assume that women’s greater family responsibilities have a stronger negative effect on wages and career opportunities in high-prestigious positions than in low-prestigious occupations. Thus, to obtain the best possible wage growth in high-prestige occupations, the employee must be constantly available to the employer to work extra hours and to take part in activities outside normal working hours (e.g., Blair-Loy 2003).” A woman who takes on a high prestigious occupation will be expected to work longer hours. If a woman also has a family she then would be expected to some how manage childcare. Typically, child care is only available during normal working hours. If a woman is working longer hours she is then penalized by needing child care for after hours and charged a higher child care rate. Common everyday tasks such as cleaning and cooking will still need to be addressed and usually it is the woman who has already been working long hours who has to provide a meal for her family.   

The Fatherhood Premium is a term used to indicate that when a single childless male in the work place becomes a father he is then viewed as a more competent worker. This fatherhood premium applies to males because they are seen as more responsible and trustworthy. The opposite is true for women. There is no motherhood premium for women. Especially, if they are unmarried and with children.  Their human capital actually decreases because now their familial obligation at home as increased and they are less likely to be as productive in the work place due to time constraints. They will not be able to work long hours and their loyalty will shift from their job to their family.

Being able to balance great familial responsibilities and a career is not viewed as being an asset. Unfortunately, society still see single mothers as a liability in the workforce. Single mothers need to take extra time off of work for child care issues, extra sick days for taking care of sick children, and extra time off to attend school events. Single mothers are denied equal pay and equal advancement due to the sexism that is cultivated in our culture today.  Single fathers are embraced with the Fatherhood Premium and are deemed worthy, responsible, and trustworthy. They are not passed up for promotions or raises.  It is important for society to acknowledge the double standard and make an effort to create change in the work place.

Works Cited
Magnusson, Charlotta, and Magnus Nermo. “Gender, Parenthood and Wage Differences: The Importance of Time-Consuming Job Characteristics.” Social Indicators Research, vol. 131, no. 2, 2016, pp. 797–816., doi:10.1007/s11205-016-1271-z.
Holy Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2017.
Netcoh, Steven. “The Strengths and Limitations of Human Capital Theory in Educational Research and Policymaking.” Crosscutting Conversations in Education, 19 Jan. 2016,

New Study Finds Weight Loss Surgery Prolongs Life

New Study Finds Weight Loss Surgery Prolongs Life
Josanne English
Albertus Magnus College
SC-110-1 Human Health and Disease

New Study Finds Weight Loss Surgery Prolongs Life
Times Magazine recently reported about a study posted in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that weight loss surgery can prolong life for at risk patients by reducing the risk of stroke, heart failure, heart attack, and atrial fibrillation and overall lower death rates from any cause in high risk patients. The article suggested that after an eight year follow up, the patients who were type 2 diabetic who had the weight loss procedures had heart related events and illness decline by 39% and overall death from any cause declined by 41%. The study claims that there are many factors that may contribute to the lower mortality rate. One of those being that once patients undergo weight loss surgery, “There are neurohormonal changes we see after these procedures that could have significant metabolic effects and benefits for patients,” says Dr. Ali Aminian, associate professor of surgery at Cleveland Clinic which performed the study for this claim. The study claimed that of the patients with type 2 diabetes who used insulin medication, no longer needed it after the weight loss surgery. Also, the use of non-insulin diabetic medication dropped by half from 80% to 40%.  Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the paper states that, “What this tells me is that the heart-related morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes and obesity is reversible with the right procedure.”

To verify this scientific claim, I need to confirm that the scientific evidence is observation based and quantifiable. Next, the evidence needs to be apparent so I can understand how the data was collected. The source and quality of the data needs to be verifiable and referenced as well. Thirdly, the evidence should be free of bias. The evidence should come from an objective source with no hidden agenda.

We will begin with the first requirement of the criteria set forth above. Is the evidence observation based and quantifiable? Based on the article, the research was observation based. The research was a clinical trial that took place in Cleveland Clinical during 1998 and 2017 with a follow up in December of 2018. There were 13,722 participants varying between surgical and non-surgical patients, men and women.

The second requirement of the criteria asks that the evidence be apparent to understand how the data was collected. The data was collected by varying participants in a clinical trial based in Cleveland over the span of ten years. The evidence took into account different variables such as age, gender, race, BMI, surgical, non-surgical, diabetic and non-diabetic.

The tertiary criterion states that the evidence needs to be biased free with no hidden agenda. The study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association. Based on the authorship guidelines established by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and listed on the JAMA website the following must be observed in order to be published in the journal: substantial contributions to conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and drafting of the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and final approval of the version to be published; and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Based on this criterion, I duly believe that the research provided was free of bias and hidden agenda.

Works Cited

Ali Aminian, MD; Alexander Zajichek, MS; David E. Arterburn, MD, et al. Association of Metabolic Surgery With Major Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patient With Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity. Journal of American Medicine Association. 2019. Page 1.

Ella Fitzgerald "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Sonny’s Blues Analysis

Sonny’s Blues Analysis             Baldwin’s short story, Sonny’s Blues, is masterful piece of literature that explores addiction and...