The Sounds of Sonny's Blues

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Sean Cohen English 1197 Sec 001 April 10th, 2012 “The Sounds of Sonny’s Blues” James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues is a short story focused around the narration of Sonny’s brother. The narrator in the case of Sonny’s Blues is the most important character in a cast of characters not only because he is the narrator, but due to the dynamic change of his character we see at the end of the story. Baldwin effectively uses the first-person narration of Sonny’s brother in order to convey the theme of communication. Throughout the entire story of Sonny’s Blues, the narrator and his brother interact through exchanging words countless times. The question posed is whether or not the narrator can truly hear what his brother is saying to him.…show more content…
And Sonny couldn’t take that.” (p. 91) This interaction between Sonny and Isabel and her family is a critical moment Baldwin uses to convey the theme of communication. Sonny is putting his heart and soul into the music as a way to communicate the way he feels, but the people around him do not understand his interpretation and in turn cannot communicate with Sonny. The dynamic character with the most impact in the story is easily the narrator. A dynamic character is a character that undergoes a major change in the story. We see this major change finally come in the last sequence of the story. Sonny and the narrator go to a nightclub where the narrator watches Sonny perform on the piano. This is where the reader finally sees the narrator gain an understanding of his brother. “And, while Creole listened, Sonny moved, deep within exactly like someone in torment. I had never before thought of how awful the relationship must be between the musician and his instrument. He has to fill it, this instrument, with the breath of life, his own.”(p. 99) The narrator finally understand why Sonny is attracted to music. Music gives him the ability to express himself, to communicate his feelings with others in a way words do not allow. A tortured soul, Sonny is able to be free of the torment of life when he plays the piano. “Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us to be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we
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