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The Narrator of Sonny's Blues

            In James Baldwin's short story, "Sonny's Blues," the narrator's brother, Sonny, has a heroin addiction and gets arrested for using and selling drugs. The narrator feels he needs to take care of and save his brother simply because he is family. Even though these two brothers clearly love each other, they can drive each other apart because they just don't understand each other and don't approve of each other's lives. But this love also binds them together and, after a long journey apart, brings them back together as a family. James Baldwin's short story "Sonny's Blues" presents a family theme through the use of symbolism, tone, and first person narration.
             Jazz music is a very big symbol in "Sonny's Blues." Jazz represents how different the two brothers are, for jazz means something different to each of them. For the narrator, jazz represents all things bad. The music itself isn't what makes the narrator believe this, the people who he associates with jazz music are what shapes his beliefs. He associates criminals and unsophisticated men; men who he doesn't want Sonny to hang around with. He blames these people, and, ultimately, jazz music for his brother's drug addiction. Whereas Sonny associates all things good with jazz music. To Sonny, jazz is his only outlet in life; when he plays or listens to jazz, he can just escape reality and go into his own world of pure bliss. Where the narrator believes the people Sonny plays with are bad, Sonny thinks of them as a second family. These people understand him and accept him for who he is, they want to help him as much as the narrator does. Sonny trusts these people and finds their presence, as well as the music, comforting. At the end of the story, however, jazz music connects the two brothers together. When the narrator sees Sonny play, he understands something he's never seen in his brother, passion. He watched as "Sonny's fingers filled the air with life, his life.

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