Sonny Blues Essay 3 Pages

Assignment 1

1. Read “Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin. 

2. Write a “coming to terms” essay of 750-1000 words (3-4 double-spaced pages). This type of 

essay requires the writer to “translate the language and ideas of a text into words of [his or her] 

own” (Joseph Harris, Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts, Utah State University Press, 


Use the following information to guide your writing endeavor: 

A. Define the “project” of the writer in your own words. A writer’s “project” is more than just the 

main idea. What is the writer’s intent? What is he trying to accomplish? What claims does he 

make? (This would be the first section and/or page of your essay). 

B. Write about the ways in which the writer employs his craft. This is the section in which your 

knowledge of literary terms might come in handy (see list of suggested terms at the end of this 

document). If section A is the “what,” then this section is the “how.” What is the writer trying to 

do (A), and how is he trying to do it (B)? This will likely comprise the middle 1 ½ to 2 pages of 

your essay.

C. Assess the uses and limits of the writer’s approach. Now that you have closely examined the 

writer’s intentions, messages, and craft, take an evaluative stance on the piece. How effective 

has Baldwin been in communicating his ideas and fulfilling his purpose? What does this 

text do or “see” well? What does it seem to stumble over or leave unsaid? What are its strengths and weaknesses as a whole? What would you suggest that another reader keep in 

mind while reading it? This is the final section of the essay. Include a general conclusion as 

well; this will show your teacher that you understand how to write one.

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