Saint Marys University Sonnys Blues by James Baldwin Reader Response

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saint marys university


-This assignment should be from 2-4 pages long, typed and double-spaced.

Each student will write a response to any work or works studied this term (except for Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare in Love, or Li Po). This is a free-ranging, interpretive assignment, worth 20% of your mark: unlike with the essay summaries, the professor is particularly interested in your personal views of the subject. Think of it as a conversation between yourself and the work you’re writing about.

the poem you will be writing about is (Sonny's Blues) the poem is attached below

Getting Started: Ask Important Questions

If you’re having a problem getting started, start by asking some basic questions about the work you’re writing about:

1. Why was I interested in this work? Was I emotionally moved by the work? Why and how?

2. What is the theme of the work, and why is it important? Did I learn something from the work? Did it make me think about the world in a different way? Are there ideas I agree with or disagree with in the work?

3. Was the work formally challenging? Did it use language in an interesting way?

Was it beautiful? Would I read it again?

Technical Considerations:

-To help yourself with the writing, make an outline of your main points. Give your response a clear beginning, middle and end. You don’t have to answer every question asked above.

- This paper should be partly about yourself, but keep the work always “in sight”; keep returning to it and quoting it to underscore its relevance to your own experience. Support abstract ideas with textual evidence. In other words, think of the assignment as a conversation between you and the work of literature.

-Do NOT summarize the content of the work; i.e. assume that Professor knows and has read the work you are writing.

Below i will attach an example to show you what the professor is expecting to receive

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Example Reader Response on Alistair Macleod I chose to write about the short story by Alistair Macleod ‘The Lost Salt Gift of Blood’. I really enjoyed this piece as it speaks about the emotional journey of a father who finds his estranged son in his hometown in Newfoundland. I find the piece to be very dark and grim, and while I am not negative, I enjoy reading or escaping to literature that is dystopian in nature. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood kept me interested through the internal narration of the father and his quiet contemplations, he also describes his surroundings in exquisite detail. This allowed me to envision the small fishing village that he is visiting, or it paints a picture of Toronto when he is reminiscing about his apartment in the big city. I have a personal connection to this story which allowed me to appreciate it with an even greater depth than most pieces of literature that I read, whether they are for class or in my personal time. My relationship with my biological father has been disconnected for the past decade, he lives a life filled with wealth and lives frivolously with his money. While my life with my mother and step-father is not in any way impoverished, we share a set of values that is far different than those of my biological father. What speaks to me about the father in the story are his moral values and how they differ so greatly from his sons. He is more concerned with material values, money and large cities. While the son is more concerned with family, friends, spending time with those who love him and bettering himself each day. I find that this scenario parallels my own life. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood expresses many themes, primarily it develops throughout the text the theme of perspective and the theme of values. Many times in the passages the narrator provides examples of how his son’s perspective is so different from his own, and it creates tension within his mind. These perspectives are based off of values which are a recurring theme as well. The son and the father do not share principles and do not intersect in what they believe creates their happiness. I really enjoy how this piece used language, and how it referenced other pieces of literature. There is one passage where the narrator is referring to meeting his son in the future and they do not know eachother. He contemplates taking his son from the fishing village but then says “Or shall I wait to meet you in some known or unknown bitterness like Yeat’s Cuchulain by the wind whipped sea or as Sohrab and Rustum by the future flowing river?”1 Sohrab and Rustum were two story characters that engage in a battle, wounding each other. They were separated long ago and did not know they were father and son. This shows how the father in the story is fully aware of how disconnected they are in regards to their lifestyles. I can relate to this as I often wonder if I will reunite with my biological father, and would we know each other in regards to our values? I think that this piece if valuable to Maritime culture as it features dialect from Newfoundland, overall Atlantic Canada can be under represented in literature, media, music and movies so I feel that it is important from a cultural standpoint. Overall this was my favorite piece out of the Alistair Macleod short stories, although it resonates with me on several levels, I can detach myself and appreciate the story for it being a 1 Alistair Macleod, Lost Salt Gift of Blood. well written piece of literature about a father and son and their dichotomy of perception and values. It promotes the idea of the man taking the moral high ground and leaving his son to enjoy his simple life, fishing, playing and being sheltered by the village and his grandparents. I think this can provide an example to many parents on leaving their own wants and needs behind when making the best choice for their children and what their children want out of life. I believe ultimately Alistair Macleod may have experienced a similar scenario in his lifetime as it is written with considerable passion and emotion. Or he is just an incredible talented writer.
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Reader Response on James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation

Reader Response on James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"
I chose to write about this short story by James Baldwin "Sonny's Blues." This piece of
work is fascinating, entertaining and sad at the same time because of the way it presents a tragic
story of Sonny through his brother who was a high school math teacher who could not help but
compare his students with Sonny. Sonny gets arrested for selling heroin, and this makes his
brother sad and disturbed the whole day at school.
I find the story very dark and grim but am not cynical about it. I like this kind of literature
because it is dramatic. The story Sonny's Blues kept me engross...

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