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- Sonny is the main character's brother. The reader sees him through his brother’s eyes, as a quiet, introspective person with a tendency to withdraw inside himself. Sonny is also described by the narrator as wild, but not crazy. He has a heroin addiction, which led him to jail, but because of his passion for jazz, he became a musician.
- Sonny’s brother is the narrator and main character; his name is never mentioned throughout the story. He is a high school algebra teacher and family man. Unlike Sonny who is constantly struggling with his feelings, he chooses to ignore his own pain.
- Isabel is Sonny’s sister-in-law, she is open and talkative. After Sonny’s mother died, he lived with Isabel in her parents' house for a while, while his brother was in the army.
- Creole is a bass player who leads the band that Sonny plays in at the end of the story. He functions as a kind of father figure for Sonny.
- Sonny's Mother
- Sonny's Father
- Sonny's Uncle (His father's brother)
- Sonny's Friend
- Plot summary
- References to other works
- Allusions to actual history
- Major themes