Comparison of Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” and Ellison’s “Battle Royal”

Pages: 1
Words: 291

It seems reasonable to state that black oppression in “Sonny’s Blues” and “Battle Royal” is the primary theme. The latter will be a good option to focus on within the scope of comparing the mentioned stories. In these pieces of writing, despite the liberation of slavery, black people are still emotionally and practically shackled and physically restricted to any legitimate manifestation of achievement without the Whites’ power. As a result of reading the significant works, important historical events may be viewed from a unique perspective.

Within the scope of the similarities, it should be stressed that the narrator in “Sonny’s Blues” is apparently related to the one in “Battle Royal.” Both of them decide not to see and recognize their people’s suffering. This leads to criminal consequences, as well as to an unspoken acceptance of the black stereotype. This is visible from the following citations, “I am not ashamed of my grandparents for being slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time being ashamed” (Ellison 13). Then, “there’s no way not to suffer. Isn’t it better, then, just to – take it?” (Balwin 41). Sonny, on the other hand, is influenced by violence in his hometown of Harlem. After being apprehended and released from prison, he is determined to get back on track.

In the framework of differences, it should be noticed that while both works contain the issue of identity, “Battle Royal” tends to focus on searching for one’s own personality, and “Sonny’s Blues” tells the story of a man breaking away from his actual one. Ellison’s narrator does not know what his identity is. Sonny, in turn, tries his best to run from the life and responsibilities that are already known and determined to him.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” NDSU, 1957, Web.

Ellison, Ralph. “Battle Royal.” HCC Learning Web, 1947.