Summary Of Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

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In “Sonny’s Blues” James Baldwin uses imagery and the theme of music to help strengthen the relationship between the narrator and his younger brother, Sonny. Throughout the story there is a continual struggle for the two brothers to understand each other. The narrator, who is the older brother, is an algebra teacher. He thinks that musicians and bar workers are the bottom of the barrel. The younger brother is Sonny, who at the beginning of the story is arrested for heroin and is also a jazz pianist. Jazz and the blues are about the heart, soul, and spirit and Baldwin shows this through the transformation of the brother’s relationship. The music not only helps the narrator understand himself, but his relationship with Sonny. It helps tell a…show more content…
Music became the tool that helped them understand one another and how to be there for each other. The narrator began to have an understanding of music and how it can have the power of healing when he and Sonny watched the street meeting. The narrator allows the reader to see this by stating, “The music seemed to soothe a poison out of them…” (Baldwin 166). The narrator’s understanding of music sparks up a conversation between himself and Sonny. Sonny admits that the woman’s voice at the street meeting reminded him of what heroin felt like. The narrator listens to his brother and lets him know that music is a positive factor and can be an alternate to drug use. This shows the reader that the narrator is showing sympathy and has a great deal of understanding about Sonny’s suffering. Their sense of understanding becomes so strong that Sonny invites his brother to watch him play. During the performance the narrator begins to analyze the music that Sonny and the group were playing. He feels that the group’s leader, Creole, is telling the audience about the blues. Creole says that even though the tale of how we suffer, how we are delighted, and how we triumph is never new, it must always be heard. The narrator feels that Creole is saying, “Listen. Now these are Sonny’s blues” (Baldwin 174). This is the very moment of the story where the reader is presented with a feeling that the brothers have gone through a transformation that they helped experience together. Even though the narrator sees in Sonny’s face that he is free, he still senses from his music what Sonny has been through and will continue to go through. “I heard what he had gone through, and would continue to go through until he came to rest in earth” (Baldwin 174). The narrator came to the realization that Sonny’s music produced special memories in each of the brother’s lives. In the end, music is what brought the brother’s close together and

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