Role of Music in 'Sonny's Blues' by James Baldwin

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The Role of Music in "Sonny's Blues" "Sonny's Blues," by James Baldwin, explores the strained relationship that two brothers the unnamed narrator and Sonny have and how the narrator slowly begins to recognize Sonny's relationship with music. While the narrator is initially baffled by Sonny's dream to become a musician, towards the end of the short story, he recognizes that Sonny depends on music and that it is a driving force in his life, possibly one of the only things that keep him alive. "Sonny's Blues" opens with news that Sonny has been recently apprehended during a drug bust, which establishes that Sonny has had an ongoing problem with drug addiction, specifically heroin. While the narrator is apprehensive about contacting Sonny after this incident as the brother have lost touch over the years, he eventually reaches out to Sonny and gains insight into what Sonny has been doing during their estrangement; it is also during this time that the narrator recognizes that music is not only an artistic outlet for Sonny, but also provides an emotional and psychological catharsis for him and those that listen to his music. Sonny best describes his dependency on music as he talks to his brother after an old-fashioned revival meeting during which there was much singing. Sonny states, "When she was singing before," said Sonny, abruptly, "her voice reminded me for a minute of what heroin feels like sometimes when it's in your veins. It makes you feel sort of warm and cool at
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