James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” is about the fractured relationship between brothers. At the beginning of the story Sonny is arrested during a drug bust. His older brother is torn because he somehow, he failed to keep his promise to his mother and let Sonny down. While Sonny is away in rehab or prison his older brother’s daughter dies. Sonny’s brother tries to reconnect with him. After Sonny is released from prison or rehab his brother tries to understand Sonny’s drug use. Sonny’s brother is concerned he may relapse and use heroin again. In the conversation prior to hearing Sonny play with the band, Sonny attempts to explain the suffering he experienced in life. Sonny explained his addiction to heroin to his brother as living in hell. Sonny uses music to navigate through the hardships of living in Harlem as Black man. He described it as “It is terrible and sometimes inside,” he said “that’s what’s the trouble. You walk these streets, black and funky and cold, and there’s nothing shaking, and there’s no way of getting it out that storm inside. You can’t talk it and play it, you realize nobody’s listening. So, you’ve got to listen. You got to find a way to listen.” (Baldwin, 1957/2015 p. 49) Sonny recognized the suffering of the woman singing on the street. He could understand her plight when others could not. He wanted his brother to understand his plight and how heroin was an escape from the harsh reality of life. Sonny was able to reconnect with his brother through the session at the club. Sonny’s brother was forced to listen to the suffering of his brother; they were able to overcome the distance between them. (Naughton, 2014)
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