Briefly review your main points: central idea, tone, language devices.

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Dec 8, 2022


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Essay Three: Language & Tone in “Sonny’s Blues”
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” is a story well-suited to the study of language and tone. It’s a beautiful piece that can be approached from a variety of angles. Also, the study of this story can be exceptionally rewarding. For this essay, I am asking you to approach the central idea and elements of language and tone with the guiding theme of music.
Before you start writing your essay, you will need to collect at leasy two supporting sources related to “Sonny’s Blues” and/or the power of music. You must perform your research through ACC’s databases. Then, you will create and submit your Annotated Works Cited.
Eventually, you will embed these sources in some of your paragraphs. In this way, you are collaborating with other people on your final product. Make sure you are choosing sources that actually make sense for your discussion.
Academic dishonesty is not just wrong, it can have extremely serious consequences. That’s important to say because this essay calls for you to use other people’s ideas as well as your own. If you consult a source without giving it credit, that is plagiarism. Plagiarism is found in ideas, not just words. Here’s a refresher:
Try not to get overwhelmed. Just follow the directions step by step and review the associated slides. I am also here to help.
Prompt: Write a 1,000 to 1,500 word essay that discusses central idea, language, and tone, and the connection to music in “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin. Use research from 2 or 3 other sources to help you develop your ideas.
For best results, follow the outline precisely.
The Research: Use two or three academic sources from our library’s databases to add critical weight to your essay. These sources should augment your discussion within the paragraphs and should not be stuck on at the end of the paper. That is two or three total, not two or three per concept or two or three per paragraph.
Central Idea
Your central idea for this specific essay should revolve around the power of music and preferably its effects on community.
Create a unique title that reflects the spirit of your thesis.
The Outline for Essay 3
1st paragraph: Introduce and summarize the story.
Make sure to include James Baldwin’s name and “Sonny’s Blues” in your first sentence.
The story is lengthier than many of the stories you have read this semester.
Make a timeline of events and only recount the most basic plot points. This summary should end on the first page.
Example central idea/thesis. You do not have to use this template.
Through (allusion, metaphor, or symbolism), Baldwin creates a (one word for tone) tone to show the reader that music (finish the central idea statement).
This paragraph should include no research.
2nd paragraph: Support the central idea.
Rephrase the central idea you just introduced. Support with textual evidence: one quotation along with mention of supporting plot points and their relevance is usually enough to support the CI. Make sure you aren’t summarizing here. If you use a research article to explain the central idea, make sure to cite it.
3rd paragraph: Identify the dominant tone of the story.
A few words for tone are cynical, disdainful, fanciful, gloomy, intimate, judgmental, jovial, optimistic, pessimistic, reverent, reflective, solemn. Choose one word for the tone that is most dominant. Explain how it is manifested in the story and how it relates to the central idea. If you use a research article to explain the tone, make sure to cite it.
4th paragraph: Discuss allusion OR metaphor/simile OR symbolism
Find two different examples of this one language device. Connect the examples to the central idea and tone. (This can be done in separate sentences.) If you use a research article to explain the language device, make sure to cite it.
5th paragraph: Personal Reflection
Reflect on the story using first-person point of view.
Here are some questions to guide you in your discussion. You do not have to answer these questions:
How can you apply the central idea from this story to your own life?
How has music shaped your community?
Is your experience of music a public or private one?
What do you know about the way African-Americans have shaped music in the USA (find sources if you aren’t sure of the facts)?
What other songs have similar tones to “Sonny’s Blues”?
How is your experience of tone affected by the language elements in the story?
If you use a research article to explain any of your concepts, make sure to cite it.
6th paragraph: Present a conclusion
Briefly review your main points: central idea, tone, language devices.
Make a statement about how the chosen language device helps develop the tone and/or central idea.
You may call attention to the importance of the story and reflect on its relevance.
This paragraph should include no research.
Works Cited
Put this on a new page. It must include the story and supporting references. These might be the same ones used chose for your Annotated Works Cited. Take out any annotations that remain.


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