Doris Lessing Revisits/Rewrites The Past

The following link will lead you to an interview of Doris Lessing, in which the 2007 Nobel laureate talks about her latest book, Alfred and Emily, her childhood memory in Zimbabwe, her life after receiving the Nobel Prize in literature, and so forth. Listen to it and write down anything you feel interesting in this interview.



I Have A Dream

James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" (1957) is a story about an agnst-driven balck boy growing up in a racist society. Sonny has a talent for music and wants to become a jazz pianist; however, to his pratically-minded brother, this desire is merely a pipe dream. The reconciliation of the two brothers is finally reached when the narrator begins to understand Sonny's music and his anguish.

Sonny's motto can be put like this: "I play, therefore I am." In other words, his existence hinges on the insuppressible desire to produce art, to get people listen. Growing up in the impoverished neighborhood of Harlem and breathing the poisonous atmosphere of racial discrimination, Sonny has a visceral experience of pain, discontentment, and profound frustration resulting from social injustice. As he says to his brother: "It's terrible sometimes, inside..., that's what's the trouble. You walk these streets, black and funky and cold, and there's not really a living ass to talk to, and there's nothing shaking, and there's no way of getting it out--that storm inside" (105). This "storm inside" triggers him to produce art, since artist is a soul in turmoil.

Sonny has a dream, a dream that is unconventional, daring and even provocative given his socio-economic situation. What is your dream? Does your dream conform to the mainstream expectation of our society? Or do you dare to dream an impossible dream that does not follow the standardized idea of success? If you are still unsure of your dream, maybe you can talk about what you have learned from reading "Sonny's Blues." What has the story inspired you?