Short Story Review 5: SONNY’S BLUES by James Baldwin


The main character, a teacher, gets word that his brother, Sonny, has been taken to a rehabilitation center for heroin use. Being seven years older than his brother, he feels some remorse over the shakiness of their relationship. He and his brother had a weak relationship though the main character could identify very well with Sonny. Sonny is a aspiring pianist and his brother is not confident he will do much with his life if all he wants to do is play the piano. Sonny, however, uses his piano to express his suffering. He suffers and feels from the loss of his mother, father, uncle, and there was a ceiling on his life due to his race.

The main character goes to Sonny’s work, a place where music is played, and there Sonny plays his instrument with so much soul it causes him to rethink the very nature of life. Sonny, a man who is smart and kind to others, is down on his luck but music gives him one avenue of hope. This avenue of hope helps connect Sonny with his brother so the brother who is down and out helps redeem the relationship. The main character being a teacher and having a family appears to be the only person who can redeem the relationship but the drug using unemployed brother through music redeems the relationship.


Sonny is it intriguing character in this tale. He is a heroin user and he is unemployed yet he has so much to live for. People around him including his brother the main character and the musicians with him he plays believe in him and when he plays his instrument he believes in himself. He is an unlikely character to bring healing to a broken relationship but because he does one thing he loves life and it arranges itself to put him in a place where he is the healer of his relationship with his brother.

You don’t have to have a perfect life two men relationships you just have to have an openness to make relationships right again, for relationships to mend. Sonny was extremely imperfect yet he was the tool used to perfect his relationship with his brother.




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