Your Full Name Your Your 11 April 2012 Final Exam Essay Question Paul’s case, simply put, would be one of extreme self-absorption and narcissism, mixed with, perhaps, a dash of homosexuality, all of which leads him to depression…
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The loathing he has for the common people is evident when his English teacher comes to see the show at Carnegie Hall, where he is the usher, and he wonders, offended, what business she had there “among all these fine people and gay colors.” Somehow, for Paul, there is no redemption for common people. He is so self absorbed that he thinks that only people he idealizes are actually good people. He does not care whether his family loves him or are concerned about him, because to him they are not worthy of his attention as they do not come up to his standards of worthy people, so to speak. A classic narcissist, he does not care about anyone other than himself. When he is stealing money, he does not concern himself with who would have to pay it back, or whether anyone would come after his father – the thought does not even cross his mind. Similarly, when he discovers that his father ended up paying the money Paul had stolen and had now started to search for his son, he was concerned about himself: he did not want to go back as he still wanted to enjoy the pseudo life he was living. It seems as if he is always trying to impress those around him, trying to set himself apart from them. Whether it is by his insolence towards his teacher, or his flat out lying amongst his peers, it is clear that he does not want them to see him as one of their own. He does not want to belong to them – he looks down on them. Yet, this same feeling causes him to get depressed because he feels like a stranger in his own milieu. His suppressed sexuality has added to his depression and disenchantment with his real life and those around him. Although there is nothing overt, however, Paul does seem to have certain homosexual tendencies. Whether it is how he hangs around Charley Edwards of the stock company, or a hint about how badly his night out with a rich boy from Yale ends, or his repulsion at getting married, it seems as if Paul is secretly a homosexual, which causes him to further disenfranchise himself from the social scene he belongs to. It is precisely because he does not relate to those around him and cannot be part of those he wants that, rather than go back to lead a “normal” life, that he kills himself. Sonny Blues Sonny and his brother were born about seven years apart, which seem like a chasm to the latter. What is more, both brothers are quite different temperamentally as well. The elder brother seems to be more accepting of his circumstances, and does not try to escape them, but rather try to make his life within them. He left Harlem, and yet has taken residence in a project, with his wife and children. Moreover, after retiring from the army he has taken up a job as an algebra teacher – a solid, respectable sort of job by society’s standards. Sonny, on the other hands, seems to be rebelling against his circumstances. Whether it is drugs or his music, he seems to want to break free from Harlem both in body and in spirit. In music, he seems to have found his escape, and ironically, drugs play a part in that too, despite him wanting to leave Harlem to avoid becoming an addict. Musicians are never considered to be the “solid respectable type” in society, and what is more, Baldwin depicts how Sonny actually did not even have much idea about how to make a living by music. The young African-American men are up against the two “darknesses” according to Baldwin. The first being the reality of
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