The short story Sonny's Blues, by James Baldwin, is a story about responsibility , imprisonment, and salvation.
Throughout the story, the importance of responsibility is a recurring theme. The narrator, is put in charge of his brother from a very young age, by their mother right before she past. This puts him in an awkward position, and at that age, he didn't have any clue how to take responsibility for Sonny. His attempts to reconnect and be responsible, were shot down but eventually, he persisted through the rejections by Sonny, and himself. He got Sonny a place to live (his wife's parents house) so that he could finish high school. Although they did not understand each other, and did not always get along, he did things like let Sonny move in, and try to give Sonny advice, because he wanted to be a responsible older brother. There were times where he couldn't get passed their differences, but in the end he was still trying to show this responsibility. Responsibility is also shown in the society of Harlem. On saturdays, the adults having responsibility over the children, sit around and tell stories for the children to hear. This comforts and soothes the children, when it's so hard to do in a place like Harlem. When the congregation gathers outside of the narrators window, people who he thinks shouldn't be praising and singing to god, were singing hymns and dancing. It is their responsibility to try and spread love, in such an angry community, even if they are angry as well. This same responsibility is shown Through Sonny's desire to create music. He sees the struggles of Harlem, and wants to give an outlet to their problems, through his music. He feels that if he does this he is playing his part in doing something to better the community. This companionship shown throughout the story, is needed to keep everyone sane in such an environment, making it a responsibility as well.
Another important part of the story is the prevalence of imprisonment, both physically and metaphorically.