What is the significance of the street revival meeting in "Sonny's Blues"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us remember that the street revivial meeting occurs whilst Sonny is living with his brother, the narrator, who is becoming more and more suspicious of Sonny's behaviour and wants to search his room to see if he can find any evidence of drugs. As he thinks about these things, he ntoices that there is an "old-fashioned revival meeting" going on opposite his house. As the narrator comments, this was nothing new, and the words of the song the people sing have been heard by everyone many times before. There was nothing special about those who were holding the revival. The significance of this revival meeting seems to lie in the profound impact that the music has on those around them:

As the singing filled the air the watching, listening faces underwent a change, the eyes focusing on something within; the music seemed to soothe a poison out of them; and time seemed, nearly, to fall away from the sullen, belligerent, battered faces, as though they were fleeing back to their first condition, while dreaming of their last.

It is important to focus on this quote and the way that it presents music as a force that is capable, albeit briefly, of saving people from their everyday problems and helping them to become happier. This of course foreshadows the concert at the end of this incredible story where the narrator hears his brother play for the first time and understands the power of music and how his brother has been able to find salvation from his problems through it.


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