Sonny’s Blues was a story that can be easily resonated with for some people. The boy by which the story is named for, Sonny, had lived a very troublesome and somewhat lonely life. His older brother was the narrator of the story and only wanted the best for Sonny who was seven years younger than he was.
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Sonny had faced many trials throughout the story including drug abuse, his decision to join the navy, and trying to start a career in music. His older brother was caring to the best of his ability, though many times he just didn’t know how to react with some of Sonny’s words and actions. They do their best to see each other’s points of view and sometimes it works better than others.
In the beginning of the story, the narrator led the reader to believe something terrible had happened. At first, nobody had a clue as to what had happened or to whom, but were given an insight on what the narrator was feeling in regards to this. He described it as a great block of ice that had settled in his stomach, melted, and sent ice water through his veins. This became a recurring feeling for him. Soon, we learn that Sonny is his younger brother who is struggling with heroin addiction. There was a boy that met the narrator as he was leaving work, ready to inform him about Sonny’s state. Sonny’s brother had already known because of an article in a newspaper, but the two stayed chatting and the boy had answered a lot of the brother’s questions. Sonny and his brother had written letters to each other until Sonny made it back to New York after rehab. His brother described him as looking older and thinner than the Sonny he once knew. Sonny had lived with his brother and his family for a short time until there was a falling out.
One day, Sonny’s brother had asked him what he planned on doing in his future. Sonny replied with a simple I’m going to be a musician. His brother was not sure how to respond so he asked a few more questions. Questions like: You mean, you want to be a drummer? and What kind of musician do you want to be? He ended up working it out of Sonny. Sonny told him we wanted to play jazz music with what their daddy had called good-time people. Sonny had made it clear that he was serious about a career in music, whether or not his brother was going to accept his decision. His brother had said it was time for get serious about his future and what he was going to do for a living. Sonny had finally said he had wanted to join the Army or the Navy, this way, he could get out of Harlem and still have the G.I. bill waiting for him when he came out. Soon after, Sonny’s brother convinced him to start going back to school. Sonny agreed and also started playing the piano. Day and night, in between meals. He became better each day and even bought records that allowed him to practice improvisation with the music. Come to find out, Sonny had stopped going to school all together. Every letter that had come, Sonny had gotten rid of.
Once Sonny’s brother and his wife Isabel found out about this, they were very upset. After they had scolded Sonny, he packed up his records and left without a trace. Nobody had heard from him until he had sent a postcard from somewhere in Greece. He had decided to join the Navy. His brother hadn’t seen him until long after the war was over, and even then, Sonny was not the same person. He had told his brother to not worry about him and as far as Sonny was concerned, he was dead in this life to his brother. Sonny’s brother was crushed as he was leaving the apartment. They didn’t talk for a while after that until Sonny went to his brothers house after a revival. He had invited his brother to watch a gig he had in a downtown club. His brother went with him willingly and finally came to realize how much it meant to Sonny.
Sonny’s music mattered to him a great deal at that point in his life. This was how he was making a living. His brother had listened to Sonny and his band play Am I Blue and at that moment, his brother realized how deeply someone could be moved through the music. Sonny’s brother was able to create a story out of the blues by just listening intently. His brother had bought a round for the bandstand and the pair was at peace in their relationship once more.
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