James NikopoulosNazarbayev University

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“A Kind of Joy”
Laughing and Grinning through “Sonny’s Blues”
in James Baldwin Review

The protagonists in James Baldwin’s 1957 short story “Sonny’s Blues” are constantly smiling and laughing. The story’s narrator notices these gestures and utilizes them to grasp at clarity when clarity seems out of reach. This article examines the narrator’s focus on this duo of facial expressions which reliably denote positive emotion. The relationship we maintain between our smiles and our laughter structures many of the narrator’s interactions with the story’s hero. More though, this relationship between smiles, laughter, and a kind of joy resembles the relationship Baldwin has described between the blues and the world this genre of music depicts.

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