Addressing Family Conflict and Family Dynamics in the stories Sonny’s Blues and Two Kinds





  1. Analyze how the families, their relationships and problems are represented in Sonny’s blues written by James Baldwin.


This is a true story told by a narrator of his young brother Sonny. He narrates how his brother struggled with issues to do with family, education, and his personal ambitions and eventually gave up, indulging into drug abuse. He is informed from a newspaper that sonny was arrested. Out of bitterness, he decides not to visit or even write to him while in prison. After teaching, on his way home, he meets up one of Sonny’s friends whom he despised and felt pity for at the same time. They start talking about sonny and the fact that his current lifestyle is a source of anguish to many.

However, when his daughter Grace dies of polio, he writes to Sonny while in prison. Sonny responded with an explanation of the reasons why he was in the current situation. They keep in touch until he is released from prison. The narrator takes him to his house. There is an element of flashback where the narrator recalls how his brother and father used to fight, how his mother constantly reminded him never to abandon his younger brother and warned him of the guilt he will have if he does so.

It was after their mother died, that Sonny spoke to the narrator about his passion of being a jazz musician, something he ignored and insisted that he should clear school first. He clashed with his sister in law on several occasions because of playing the piano and skipping school to stay with other musicians. A fight ensued and he was compelled to move out and join the navy.      The two brothers lost touch until after the war. Upon reconciliation, they fought again over Sonny’s decisions in life and it was very ugly. It even reached a point that Sonny told him to his face that he does not recognize him as a brother. After a while, the narrator becomes suspicious of his small brother and decides to search his room. He is distracted by beautiful music from outside. At that moment, sonny comes in to invite him to watch him play the music. As they went to the club and the narrator sees the passion in Sonny’s eyes as he played the piano to a crowd that adored him, he was awed and discovered who Sonny really was.

This story is a good basis that teaches us to respect individual decisions and offer moral support to each other. Brothers need to be there for each other in good and bad times regardless of the decisions one makes. When it comes to family, one has to forgive them for they do not know what they do, to accept them because they have no other choice. They will always put you to the test, but you should always try to do your best and just pray for God to do the rest. One can choose their lovers, pick friends but cannot pick the family they are in. It is important to know that they will be with you to the end because they are family.

  1. Analyze the family issues in Two Kinds written by Amy Tan


The Two Kinds is a story told by a Chinese American woman named June. She was the protagonist unlike the story on Sonny’s Blues where Baldwin was the antagonist. She tells of the struggle she faced inside herself, wanting to live up to the expectations of her mother, an Asian immigrant. When the mother left China, she left behind two twins and came to reside in America. June’s mother wanted her to become a prodigy.

She bought her books and magazines that trained her how to be sharp and carry herself intellectually as a prodigy. June had the will to be what her mother wanted. She allowed her mother to train her on how to become a Chinese Shirley Temple. Through that, every time the mother saw that June was not getting perfect, she would be angry and this made June resentful.

With the view that she wanted to pursue her dreams, she stopped wanting to be perfect just to please her mother. Sometime later, while watching a small Chinese girl performing, June’s mother decided that her daughter was to be a pianist. She enrolled her for piano lessons with a deaf teacher. At the end, when she was expected to present in a talent show, she disappointed everyone by singing a very bad tune. She thought that her mother’s pursuit would end but she pushes her further and eventually June bursts and speaks harshly to her mother, she even tells her she wishes she was dead like the twins the mother had left in china.

June sees this as a conflict which went unresolved and has followed her to adulthood. She felt like she had disappointed her mother who later accepted the defeat. Before she died, she gave June a piano on her thirty first birthday as a peace offering, a symbol of the reconciliation she really needed in her heart.

This story is important in reminding the parents to allow their children pursue their dreams. They should not instill things that are not necessary in a baby’s life because they will grow up unhappy. It teaches on the fact that unconditional love should be exercised in the family setting and forgiveness and reconciliation are important keys to freedom.

In conclusion, both stories have the same teachings on the importance of sticking together as a family till the end. Even in death the family should be close knit. This is achieved through ensuring that each individual needs are taken care of and their views heard (Greenberg & Watts 127. Everyone is important and they have different talents, it is necessary that all parties should understand who they are and what they want in life. This will aid in strengthening the weaker branches. Abandoning each other cannot solve anything, instead, challenges should be faced together knowing that no matter what tide comes, you always have each other’s back as a family.

The families should find better ways of solving their conflicts because in a family set up, some are preachers, some are gay, some are addicts, drunkards or strange but not even one is turned away because they are family (Greenberg &Watts 129). As a family, it is important to accept each one and let your heart be an open door. The members are the mirror of the worst and best in you and therefore, it is paramount to give out your best as a member.

Work Cited

Greenberg, Brian & Watts, Linda. Family: a place where life begins. New York: MacMillan Publishers. 2009. Print.

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