Struggling with an addiction is one of the most painful and dreadful experiences one could ever go through. It can start out small or simple, then all of a sudden it is a full on addiction. In James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” addiction is a force that is to be reckoned with. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited”, paints the perfect picture of what addiction can do at its greatest. These stories can truly substantiate how addiction can put many obstacles up that are very difficult to overcome.
It is well established in our society that overcoming adversity can lead to success in many levels.
In “Babylon Revisited” and “Sonny’s Blues” both addicts have major struggles in facing and defeating hardships in their lives, but when they are finally gone life is back to purpose again. Despite a few dissimilarities “Sonny’s Blues” and “Babylon Revisited” , have a lot in common, such as, addiction, imprisonment, and salvation. First, these stories are similar because of addiction.
In “Sonny’s Blues” we find that Sonny is addicted to heroin early on. “He had been picked up, the evening before, in a raid on an apartment downtown for peddling and using heroin. (434)
Sonny had battled a long addiction to the harmful drug before finally getting in trouble and serving jail time. Sonny, unlike the other kids in Harlem, did not act hard or gangster. He had an older brother who tried to look after him as well. He had guidance and advice at a young age but the streets of Harlem took control. Sonny wanted to find an escape from Harlem; he turned to heroin as that choice. In “Babylon Revisited” Charlie is plagued by the addiction of alcohol. He used to frequent the bars every night. He spent many nights drunk under the influence of alcohol.
He had a daughter who kept him on the straight and narrow. She was his motivation to beat the addiction. Charlie searched for meaning in the bottle. The recollection of the past paves the way toward the future. The hole that Charlie seemed to dig himself into with alcohol is something that he will never be able to forget. He has damaged more than just himself because of his addiction. These stories are similar because of addiction. Second, the stories are comparable because of imprisonment. The imprisonment is caused by the addictions.
In “Sonny’s Blues” Sonny is a prisoner to Harlem, he realized early on that he was not going to break the stereotype of being a poor, black, inner-city kid from Harlem. He realized the obstacles and burdens that were ahead of him. His brother warned him several times how dangerous and corrupt life is in Harlem but Sonny never took it to heart. He then turned to heroin to find the escape he had been searching for all along, which led to his jail sentence. Now, Sonny was literally held captive to the very thing he was using for his escape.
Yet, when he smiled, when we shook hands, the baby brother I’d never known looked out from the depths of his private life, like an animal waiting to be coaxed in the light. ”(438) Sonny’s brother had viewed him as an animal who has been trapped in the misery of his life, and now that he is free, he wants to know if he is truly free from the addiction of the past. Sonny’s brother is trying to say that he felt like he never knew his brother before but now that he has suffered the life of prison, he can see the wounds that his dreadful past had caused.
But he can still notice the heart of Sonny. He sees that deep down Sonny is the same he has always been regardless of his past. The narrator is finally confronted with the reality that Sonny is in fact his brother and he is now his brother’s keeper, a responsibility he had ran from the majority of his life. In “Babylon Revisited” Charlie is imprisoned by his past. He will never truly be able to forget his past. He is constantly reminded of it anywhere he goes in Paris. His alcoholism has led him to a life of drunken memories. He also cannot escape his failed marriage.
The reminiscence of the past can forecast the future. Because Charlie lost his wife, he is prevented from living with his daughter, which is the thing that will help him bury his past. These stories are similar because of imprisonment. Finally, these stories are alike because they both feature salvation. In “Sonny’s Blues” Sonny gets his salvation through music. When he is released from prison he is looking to get away from the same life that got him there. He also knows that Harlem is a city full of despair and drugs, which he cannot avoid. But he finds his salvation through music.
When he is urged to fall back into his old life he plays music to revive himself from it. “For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness. ”(453) the narrator describes how music changes his brother into the man he wants him to be. In “Babylon Revisited” Charlie finds salvation in through his daughter. Even though his friends and family try to bring him down, the one thing he puts his faith into is his daughter.
In order to be saved from something you must be consumed by something else. Charlie was consumed in his past and could not let go. But when he is with his daughter he finds relentless joy that he cannot seem to find anywhere else. These stories are similar because of salvation. Addiction consumed Sonny and Charlie. It was something that opened many doors that they did not want opened. It caused them both to lose their entire lives. Even though they lived they are forever haunted by the past of their previous addictions. These stories are similar because of addiction, imprisonment, and salvation.