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There is a sense of salvation and redemption at the end of the story. Sonny plays movingly, making the narrator understand, truly understand for the first time, his suffering. Yet Sonny speaks to more than just his own experience. He speaks of the experience of his mother and father, and of their community. The narrator is reminded of his own suffering and of his heritage. By understanding Sonny, he has come to understand himself.
After the song the narrator sends Sonny a glass of scotch and milk. Sonny nods toward his brother and sets the drink atop his piano. As he begins to play again it shakes like “the very cup of trembling” (141).
The narrator cannot be redeemed until he reconnects with his family, music, and with his wider heritage; aspiring to assimilate into white systems of control has not alleviated his suffering. Only understanding and identifying with his heritage can offer him a reprieve. Baldwin likely intended audiences to apply this moral to their own situations.