Sonny's Blues

What story seems to be told through and about music in "Sonny's Blues"?

James Baldwin famoulsy avowed that "It is only in his music... that Negro in America has been able to tell his story," and music of various kinds features prominently in "Sonny's Blues." Note all the time when music is mentioned, as well as al the varieties of music. What story seems to be told both through and about music in "Sonny Blues"?

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Despite the story's title, evidence in "Sonny's Blues" strongly suggests that it is jazz, more specifically bebop, that Sonny plays. For Baldwin, the blues are not a specific genre of music, but rather something more universal. The narrator explains that the blues are "the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph" (139). Given this definition, the story "Sonny's Blues" is itself a blues piece: it begins with the suffering of two brothers, follows their growing sense of communion, and ends with the triumph of brotherly love over alienation and pain. The narrator admits that this formula isn't innovative, but claims that "it's the only light we've got in all this darkness" (139). The story "Sonny's Blues" is an attempt, much like Sonny's actual music, to commune with its audience and, through that bridge of understanding and compassion, to relieve suffering. Baldwin is not playing, but writing the blues. The title "Sonny's Blues" refers not to the specific genre of music Sonny plays but to Sonny's story of suffering and triumph, of loss and redemption through music.