Comparative Analysis of “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
write a comparative analysis of the two short stories, “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. Remember, in a comparison, you can either
point on similarities between the texts or highlight contrasts, but you should not do both. Instead, you thesis will present a claim of interpretation about the texts
that addresses some aspect of comparison..
Your essay will be four pages in length, with an additional Works Cited page. You should not consult any outside sources or websites as you draft this analytical
essay. Resist the temptation to look up analysis of the stories online and instead rely on your own interpretation. You are, however, required to engage at least one
of the supplemental readings on “Everyday Use” that are in your textbook. Barbara T. Christian ” Everyday Use” and the black power movement, Mary Helen Washington
“Everyday Use” as a Portrait of the Artist, Houston A. Baker and Charlotte Pierce-Baker Stylish vs sacred in “Everyday Use” , or Elaine Showalter Quilt as Metaphor in
“Everyday Use” (You may cite more than one of these articles if you wish.) Feel free to quote, as well, from James Baldwin’s excerpt from “Race and the African
American Writer.” Your Works Cited page, then, should have a minimum of three sources on it—both stories and at least one of the supplemental articles. You have been
given the Works Cited format on previous assignments (with those assignment sheets still up on Canvas), so please refer to those resources for formatting guidelines
for your Works Cited page.
Your essay can address any of the following prompts. If you would like to develop an essay around a different topic, be sure to run it by me.
1. Compare the settings of the two stories. How do the environments depicted in each story contribute to the tensions that play out within each?
2. Compare the dynamics of the two sibling relationships in both stories.
3. Compare how the parental figures in each story play a significant role in the each and impact the relationships between the siblings.
4. Compare the first person narrators in each story. How do their points of view shape our understanding of each story? Is their view limited or restricted in some
way? What do they see or not see?
5. Compare the characters of Maggie and Sonny—the two figures who have the least direct voice in each story. How does their relative silence within the text impact our
understanding? How do the things they say add meaning?
6. Compare the strategies that any of the characters (perhaps Dee and Sonny, though it could be others) use to deal with their own “self-destroying limbo” (to quote
from James Baldwin)—the condition of hating and/or fearing the racist world in which they live. Do any of the characters reflect a better/healthier strategy for
addressing their problems?
7. Compare the cultural artifacts in each story (the quilt or other objects in the house, versus the music). How do they function to reflect the characters’ heritage?
What does each suggest about the characters’ responses to that heritage?