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How would you describe the tone of the ending of Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"?

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clad223 | eNoter

Posted October 5, 2011 at 4:24 AM via web

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How would you describe the tone of the ending of Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 5, 2011 at 5:24 AM (Answer #1)

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The tone in the ending of "Sonny's Blues" is triumphant. It is celebratory. It is larger and "longer than the sky." Sonny and his brother have talked and tried to understand each other and tried not misunderstand each other. Then, after Sonny confides the ocean of feeling that is within him--that crushes a can between his palms with its pressure--they go to an open nightclub. Here, Sonny is greeted as returning royalty; he is praised,admired, and welcomed.

Here, I was in Sonny's world. Or, rather: his kingdom. Here, it was not even a question that his veins bore royal blood.

Creole, and the other two members of Creole's quartet, lead Sonny out into deep waters of the musician's ocean--the one that resonates within Sonny's suffering heart--to let him be free in its near-weightlessness. Once Creole hears that Sonny is running with the metaphorical current on the tide of music, he and the others step back. Sonny finds new heights; he finds new music. After a year away from a piano, Sonny plays--Sonny's blues are heard.

Those listening hear the tone of the music, just as the reader hears the tone of the story. The final tone is of freedom and triumph: it says that we may be free if we but listen to the triumph in the music, in life, even though suffering is "longer than the sky":

.. in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn't any other tale to tell, it's the only light we've got in all this darkness.

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 did.

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