In “Sonny’s Blues” from 40 Short Stories, the narrator who is the older brother of Sonny,
explains the lifestyle of Sonny and the troubles that he is facing in his life; addiction to drugs.
The narrator later unfolds Sonny’s true personality and who he really is. The narrator first finds
out in a local Harlem newspaper about his brother, Sonny, being caught dealing with drugs.
At first, the narrator was in total denial but as time passed, he spoke to one of Sonny’s friends.
Sonny’s friend explained and helped him understand what was really going on with Sonny’s
addiction to drugs. Sonny’s friend also wanted his brother to realize how complicated Sonny’s life
will be if it does not stop. The narrator starts to reminisce about the past and about when he and
Sonny use to talk. Later in the book, the narrator and Sonny finally got together. They started to
remember and think back to the good times, he also discussed Sonny’s future with him. Soon after
their conversation, Sonny decides to move in with his brother’s wife. While living with his
sister in law, Sonny started to skip school in order to hang out with musician friends. After Sonny’s
sister in law’s mother spoke to him about his situation, he left the house to join the Navy. The
narrator and Sonny did not meet until after Sonny returned from the war in Greece. When they
had finally met, they had a very heated discussion about Sonny’s decisions in life. As the
conversation came to an end, both went their separate ways. The narrator decided to stop thinking
about the past and pondered whether he should search Sonny’s room or not. After pacing back and
forth, the narrator looked out the window and noticed a scene on the corner of the street and thought
about its significance and the importance of it. Soon after, Sonny arrived home and invited his
brother to watch his performance. While watching Sonny performing, the narrator then comes
to realize who Sonny really is as a person. The narrators image is portrayed as a close-
minded, practical and concerned individual; the text from the Sonny’s Blues will provide
evidence which supports the narrator’s image in the story.
The narrator felt disturbed by the news he read about his brother; “A great
block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long, while I taught my
classes algebra” (264). Even though the narrator did not meet his brother for a great period of
time, he was in major disbelief that Sonny was caught dealing with drugs. While teaching his
classes algebra, Sonny’s actions bothered him. The narrator never gave a thought about Sonny
turning out to be a bad kid; he felt that Sonny had always been a well disciplined boy. After
finally meeting up with Sonny, the narrator started to pay quite more attention to Sonny. “I was
trying to find out something about my brother. I was dying to hear him tell me he was safe”
(272). The narrator wanted to talk with Sonny and be aware about what’s going on in his life.
He wants to keep Sonny safe and guide him in the right direction to become a successful
individual as himself.
The narrator and Sonny soon engaged in a conversation about Sonny’s future plans.
After hearing that Sonny wanted to be a musician, the narrator thinks to himself; “I somehow
had the feeling that being a drummer might be all right for other people but not for my brother
Sonny” (276). The narrator was uncomfortable with Sonny’s decision. He felt as if becoming a
musician wasn’t a wise decision by Sonny and that he can strive for something much better. “I
simply couldn’t see why on earth he’d want to spend his time hanging around night clubs,
clowning around on bandstands, while people pushed each other around a dance floor” (277).
The narrator was blind, of his brother’s desire of becoming a musician. He never...
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