Joyce and Baldwin use different situations, in particular through music, with their characters to bring about this realization in their lives that they have actually neglected the most important part of life itself, their family, for their own self gain. You lean how Gabriel and Sonny’s brother both think individually and are stubborn in their believes and world views, only to see them crash down when they realize that there is more to life than what they can see. While Gabriel realizes his true relationship with his wife, the unnamed narrator of Sonny’s Blues allies his true relationship with his brother and the reconciliation of both.
Gabriel and the unknown narrator’s characters are going through their life unaware that all the situations they have been through, stories they have heard, and problems they have faced all added up to the knowledge of something they did not understand or comprehend before that one moment of realization. Joyce and Baldwin strategically place other characters around these protagonist to bring them to this realization, and also using stories from the past and what is happening to them currently to help being about this epiphany ending.
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The incitement of Gabrielle epiphany in Jockey’s book was when his wife told him the story of Michael Furry, her first true love. This story shatters his feelings towards his love for Greta and gives him a new understanding of what love must be. Joyce so depicts, “Generous tears filled Gabrielle eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love” Joyce, 172). Here in the story Gabriel comes to the point where he knows that that everything he has been working towards and for in his life, amounts to nothing in the light of the love of
Greta and Furry, the love he could have had and should have had, but never did. The unnamed narrator’s epiphany in “Sonny’s Blues” was brought about by the love his brother, Sonny, had for playing music and the desire that had to leave his hometown of Harlem. Sonny was imprisoned for drug use to get his brothers attention that he was not okay, but that music was a part of his life. But music could not suffice, Sonny needed his family too. Not Just his musical family but the unnamed narrator supporting sonny in what he desired to do with his life.
Sonny confirms his desire for his brother’s approval after he finished playing, “He didn’t seem to notice it, but Just before they started playing again, he skipped from it and looked towards me, and nodded” (Baldwin, 642). Though these are the two main characters, they were not the only ones to have epiphanies. Greta and Sonny, the two main people that play roles in the epiphanies of Gabriel realizes that she needs to tell Gabriel about Michael Furry and her relationship with him before him. You can see how things are strange and somewhat tense between
Gabriel and Greta when Joyce elaborates, “Her face looked so serious and weary that the words would not pass Gabrielle lips” Joyce, 168). Greta understands that Michael Furry was a big part of her life, he died for her love, and in order to ever allow Gabriel into her life fully, he would need to know this secret that she had been keeping for so long. In this case, Greeter’s knowledge brings Gabriel to his epiphany. However, Sonny and his brother do not bring about each other’s epiphanies, though they do influence one another’s encounter with the truth.
The unnamed narrator understands by watching his brother’s struggle with the pain of his life. Sonny’s passion for Jazz brings about the realization that maybe his possibilities in life are not so limited any more. That he is breaking through “the low ceiling of their possibilities” (Baldwin, 623). In the end of the story they are talking about a glass of alcohol somewhat metaphorically, “Then he put it back on the top of the piano. For me, then, as they began to play again, it glowed and shook above my brother’s head like the very cup of trembling” (Baldwin, 642).
This cup they talk about could be offering back to the low ceiling as Sonny breaks through all that has held him back, drugs, for so long or it could resemble the redemption of Sonny. His passion for the music takes him through so much pain and so much Joy and away from his family and back to them; learning that he had to control the music and not let it control him. Music plays are significant role in each of these stories to evoke the emotions and thoughts of the characters. It is quite ironic how music both brought the two characters, Gabriel and the unnamed narrator, from both of these stories to their realization of the truth.
A song, “The Lass of Auguring” brought an old memory to Greeter’s mind of a past love. The telling of this story to her husband, Gabriel makes him realize how he was placed other things before the love for his wife. Sonny brings his brother by playing Jazz brings him to the reconciliation with his brother he had always quick to Judge. Music is the catalyst for the epiphanies in these stories. It is very well possible that music still is a catalyst for some people. Epiphanies are concepts full of emotion and feelings, as well as music.
Music encompasses these emotions and can directs them certain way, perhaps causing the epiphany itself. In this case, does Gabriel and the unnamed narrator really even have an epiphany, or is Just inspired by the music? Gabrielle epiphany seems more realistic than that of the unnamed narrator. The music Jogged Greeter’s memory in The Dead to tell Gabriel about her first true love, causing his epiphany, “l am thinking about a person long ago who used to sing that song” Joyce, 169). While the unnamed narrators is listing to his brother, Sonny, play and begins to think about Sonny’s life and his family, beginning to understand.
However, the unnamed narrator’s memory was more awakened memories. In my opinion, music does inspire epiphanies. Emotion is equally tied into both, and that is what makes music so great. Music makes you think, as well as feel. Baldwin explains my point when the unnamed narrator understood his brother’s pain, “Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did. (Baldwin, 642). This gives a light on knowledge and understanding of everything could be a very freeing to the mind.
It is eke the foggy window on a cold morning, it is hard to see well out of window due to the frost and fog, but later when the widow is open, the light floods in and there is no glass in the line of sight. This in a sense is enlightenment; understanding of the unclear and knowledge of the mysterious. What the final insight is for these characters is the fact that they have neglected those they love, for selfish reasons. Gabriel is so worried about his appearance to the rest of the world. He is so busy trying to not look like an Irishman, his heritage, but like an Englishman who are seen as higher better than the Irish.
He Just wanted to be high in society and looked upon with respect and honor. After being confronted with Miss Ivory about not taking pride in his Irish heritage, Joyce explains how Gabriel reacted at people over hearing this news, “Gabriel glanced right and left nervously and tried to keep his good humor under the ordeal which was making him blush invaded his forehead” Joyce, 153). Gabriel was embarrassed; he was so worried about what the world thought of him that he forgot his first duty as a husband, to love his wife and devote himself to her even unto death as Michael Furry had splayed in his love for her earlier in her life.
When Greta tells Gabriel about Michael Furry he realizes that the love that he was longing for was not what he had. Love takes effort and he was putting more effort into his self image than the admiration of his wife. The unnamed narrator in Baldwin story is worried about his brother, Sonny, making a living for himself and doing something reasonable, realistic, and safe with his life. He was scared for his brother because he loved him. The unnamed narrator is afraid of the risk that Sonny is wanting to take, “He stopped. I want to play Jazz,’ he said.
Well, the word had never before sounded as heavy, as real, as it sounded that afternoon in Sonny’s mouth. I Just looked at him and I was probably frowning a real frown by this time. I simply couldn’t see why on earth he’d want to spend his time hanging around nightclubs, clowning around on bandstands, while people pushed each other around a dance floor” (Baldwin, 631). If there is not passion for something, it is hard to understand why someone else would. This is where the unnamed narrator is currently. He doesn’t understand why Sonny loves USIA so much. He is afraid of the road that music could lead him down, and it does eventually.
Music doesn’t exactly lead Sonny to drugs, but Harlem and not being able to escape his limited possibilities. But then, in the end, the unnamed narrator realizes what music really mean to Sonny. Music brings Sonny his redemption and escape from the life he was living in. The unnamed narrator recalls “l head what he what he had gone through and would continue to go through until he came to rest in earth” (Baldwin, 642). Sonny’s brother realizes that music is his brother’s way of monitoring his life and forgetting the pain that he had been or is going though.
In this the unnamed narrator finds his freedom in his brother’s freedom. He remembers all that his dad had been through and the death of his daughter and is in a way release from the pain of it all. The real question is if either of these are truly epiphanies or not? “The Dead” is a true epiphany, because it is something that Gabriel learned and remembered. He kept this knowledge and dwelled upon it. While in “Sonny’s Blues” the unnamed moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble trenched above us, longer than the sky’ (Baldwin, 642).
They are both epiphanies, because both of the characters learned from the situations they had gone through, Gabriel from his wife’s stories on her first love and the unnamed narrator from his own pain from the death of his daughter. They can last for a while or only a moment, but the knowledge is kept forever. Both of these stories are learning experiences. They fog in the minds of both Gabriel and the unnamed narrator is lifted that they finally understand that everything they have been through all did make since and was all for a reason. Though they did not see it then, they understand now.