What is the Good Life?

Everyone has a different definition of the word “”good””, especially in the context of life, depending on many factors such as where and how we live. The kind of values people hold is unrelated to their reported happiness, but the value difference is reflected in what they say is most important in determining their happiness. Values such as power, security, tradition, or benevolence are a collection of principles that guide our selection or evaluation of actions, events, and people and what we “”deem to be correct and desirable in life”” (Schwartz, 1992). Troy Maxon and Sonny are very similar both living in the 1950s, both African Americans and very family oriented. Both of them had a dream about the “”good life”” but as soon as it was in arms reach something happened in their life that deprived them of having their ultimate good life and settled down for just a fair life. They still incorporated their values of that “”good life”” in hope of climbing towards that “”good life”” but never really get to the top of the mountain. For Tory Maxon, after he lost his shot in having his ideal “”good life””, he believed that living a good life relies on your duties you have. While Sonny and his brother believed after losing the chance of having a good life”” it is okay to still believe in the values that were apart of that “”good life””.

The setting is in the 1950s. In play Fences, the characters go through race relations as the evolving African-American experience after World War two. Troy Maxson is a big man with a big personality, a troubled, bitter giant who believes he owes his family everything — from his paycheck to his soul. Years ago, Fences tells us, Troy killed a man in a robbery. During his 15-year prison stint, he took up baseball, and after his release, he played in the Negro Leagues. He became a home-run king, in fact — but he believes racism deprived him of a shot at the majors. With that dream dead, Troy took a job as a garbage man in Pittsburgh, struggling to eke out an existence in a city that doesn’t embrace him. And the bitterness lingers.””You live in my house — sleep your behind in my bedclothes, fill your belly up with my food, ’cause you my son,”” Troy tells Cory. “”‘Cause it’s my duty to take care of you. I owe a responsibility to you. … And liking your black ass wasn’t part of the bargain. Don’t you try and go through life worrying if somebody like you or not. You best be sure they do right by you.””But it’s also a lesson, in its way, about demanding your due in a world that can’t be counted on to give it to you.

Harlem, New York in the 1950s. “”Sonny’s Blues”” takes place in Harlem during the early 1950s. The city plays a pretty important role in the narrative since part of the reason Sonny turns to drugs is to escape the feeling of being trapped by his surroundings. Sonny had wanted a meaningful good life. He was devoted in his music and he wanted to become the musician that would have his story listened to. In the end, he ended up not being a famous musician but he became well known out the small club he plays at with others that know how it feels to go through what he went through and they allowed him to have other listen through the music his pain and his story of his upcoming. He at least touched a couple of people’s hearts.

From the start, Sonny’s brother was leaving the moral life. He has served in the military, returned to complete college, had an average job as an algebra school teacher. artists were free to be themselves and creative art forms such as writing and music flourished during the 1920s and 1930s. However, due the effects of the war and the depression, the town’s prosperity turned to poverty and sorrow.””darkness”” that has settled over everyone as the adults speak of their past and where they have come from the narrator and his brother continue to suffer many tragedies throughout their lives that keep the darkness hanging over their heads. Their parents pass away, Sonny develops a drug addiction, his addiction lands him in jail, and the narrator’s daughter passes away. Indeed, by the showing of tragedies, “”Sonny’s Blues”” may epitomize the process of the black Harlem people giving into the darkness and remaining in the same situation as the generation before (Claborn 92). Musically, bebop was to a large extent a revolt against swing and the way African American music had been taken over, and diluted, by whites. (Savery 169) Bebop became a way of expression for the new self-awareness in the ghettos by a strategy of nonconformity. (Reilly 57)The most prominent poor decision and questionable moral action of Sonny throughout the text is his drug usage. He does not only suffer the consequences of being a drug addict on the streets but also must serve jail time in which he tells his brother he would rather “”blow my brains out than go through this again.”” (Baldwin 127) It is, however, a result of his time served that he is able to return into society without a drug addiction and reunite with his estranged brother after years of having a strained relationship.The narrator going to the jazz club with Sonny and finally watching him play shows that not only did Sonny grow and change, but so did his brother. As pointed out by Robert P. McParland in the essay “”To the Deep Water: James Baldwin’s “”Sonny’s Blues””, it is in the end that the narrator has begun to feel something special with Sonny and he senses the emotion in his music making. He is finally ready to accept Sonny for the musician that he is. The story portrays the struggles that are often faced in relationships in regards to ethical and moral values and responsibilities.

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