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Comparing The Rich Brother And Sonnys Blues By James Baldwin Essay

Anthony Brandt, an expert editor, once said, “Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family. ” Although all people are separate from each other in multiple ways, one thing is true: family shapes who you are and will become. Because of this, one can never truly “run away” from family, as they remain a part of whom one has become. The two passages The Rich Brother by Tobias Wolff and Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin tell a story of two different brothers who have grown to be seemingly opposites of each other who end up together years later due to separate life choices.

Both stories argue that isparity in childhood leads to conflict; however, siblings always eventually come back to one another, whether good or bad. First, the story The Rich Brother supports this claim by its story of two brothers whose greatly contrasting futures do not keep each other completely separated from the other. For example, the older brother Pete’s future consists of a family, wealth, content, and great success, while his younger brother, Donald remains single, in debt, and in a search for “the fate of his soul”(259).

Over time, Pete continued to loan his younger brother money and take care of him financially, knowing that it ould never be returned. This cycle remains throughout the entire story, suggesting that Pete’s younger brother might actually be very bad for him, as Donald only seems to cause him pain and disappointment. Nevertheless, even after Pete kicks his brother out to the road and drives away, finally sensing relief and content again, he turns around, knowing that he cannot leave his brother, no matter the detrimental effects (271).

Next, in the passage Sonny’s Blues, a story is told of another contrasting pair of brothers whose separation from each other has led them to different paths in life. However one thing emains true between both brothers: each man is unable to project his true feelings. For example, the younger brother Sonny turns to a life of drugs after the death of his strong and supportive mother, leading to his imprisonment and feelings of guilt for letting his brother down (272). In contrast, his older brother, the narrator of the story, flees to war, seemingly avoiding further pain even after instructed to watch over Sonny (283).

However, after the death of his daughter, the older brother finally writes to Sonny, who is in jail, of his true feelings, finally releasing the pain he felt. Consequently, Sonny writes ack of his guilt and longing to be reunited with his brother. Throughout the story, Sonny continues to reveal his longing to be a musician and is constantly dismissed by everyone. However, at the end, Sonny invites his older brother to watch him perform. Here, it is explains that Sonny’s “outlet” is through music, as his emotions of rage and despair are released through his impactful performance, seemingly a way of communicating with his brother (292-294).

First, one reason that siblings may always come back to each other later in life is because one of them might feel as if he has a duty or obligation to look over the other. In the case of these two stories and as for a majority of the time, this “job” is typically expected by the older brother. For example, in Sonny’s Blues, the mother instructs the older brother to watch over Sonny right before she dies (283). However, the brother does not follow his mother’s request and goes off to war instead. Consequently, the brother later feels a guilt for running away from his feelings of his mother’s death, as well as Sonny.

Because of this, the brother eventually helps and give Sonny a place to live, feeling a bit as though he owes it to Sonny. In the case of The Rich Brother, Pete felt somewhat of an obligation to care for his brother but more in a sense of superiority. For example, Pete continues to give his younger brother, Donald, money and offers to send money for a bus ticket. After a bit of consideration, Pete figures that he must drive to pick his brother up, as he does not believe that Donald could make it on his own (260).

Jane Mersky Leder once said,”Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago – the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled. In both of these stories, the brothers exhibit a sense of obligation to care for their younger brother; however, more than one factor can come into play in the role that the brothers reconnect. Next, another reason in which siblings always return to each other is because of the familial love that they share which cannot be broken by just one argument.

This love is exhibited through the story, The Rich Brother. For example, this unconditional love is shown through Pete’s unwillingness to completely abandon his brother, no matter what pains it caused him. In addition, even as Donald continued to give away his lder brother’s money and even ruin his new car, Pete continued to help him and take him to his destination (261). Next, in Sonny’s Blues, although the older brother is reluctant to help his brother when first hearing of his incarceration, he soon reveals his love and want to help his younger brother through the hard times that he is facing (275-276).

With this love and brotherly bond that both siblings share in these two stories, they are never able to completely abandon the other. Next, a final reason that siblings are never able to remain absolutely separate from each other and always end up finding heir way back to the other might be because, for at least one of them, the constant “turning back” to help his sibling in need comes to form a repeated habit. For example, in The Rich Brother, it is clearly understood that Pete has been loaning his younger brother, Donald, money for quite a long period of time.

However, time after time Donald continues to give away his money and waste it repeatedly. Despite Pete’s knowledge of his brother using the money for frivolous matters instead of to help himself, Pete does not cease to loan money to his brother, knowing that the favor will never be able to be returned or epaid (269). Another example occurs at the end of the story. In detail, Pete finally becomes enraged and fed up with the wasteful actions of his brother and argues with him over it. Consequently, Donald instructs Pete to pull over and gets out of the car.

As Pete drives away, he feels more content. However, in a very short time, Pete turns around the car to pick up his brother, whom he cannot do without (270-271). It is quite apparent that this is not the first time that a similar occurrence has happened. In addition, this bad habit of Pete’s seems to cost him a sense of peace. In opposition to the argument that siblings will always return to each other, regardless of any past events that might have separated them, is that many siblings cannot forget a grudge or are forced to leave their sibling for their own well being.

As seen in The Rich Brother, Pete felt very content without the presence of his brother. In fact, almost every time Donald was around, Pete was stressed, angry, or overwhelmed (270). Also, as observed in the final paragraphs, Pete was fairly happy and actually had a smile on his face as he drove away from his brother (271). However, regardless of his content, he put his rother before himself and happiness. The inability to detach oneself from a seemingly “toxic” person who causes nothing but pain and negative effects can prove to be very detrimental to a person.

Also, some siblings are unable to get past a traumatic or negative event between them and never talk again. With these two factors against reconnecting siblings, holding a grudge is quite unhealthy and it can be very difficult and saddening to avoid a person who is a huge part of you and your upbringing. In conclusion, the bond that siblings share is far more important than any quarrel, and regardless of past events, siblings will lways find their way back to each other.

Although times are changing, along with definitions and understandings of family, siblings are very important to stay close to and not abandoned. The world is developing greatly, and it is essential to have a sibling to rely on. Siblings hold a special bond that can help them get through hardships together, instead of alone. To quote Erica E Goode, “Sibling relationships outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust. “

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