Sonny's Blues Questions and Answers
by James Baldwin

Sonny's Blues book cover
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What does Baldwin achieve by beginning "Sonny's Blues" as he does?

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A good way to consider why authors begin their texts the way they do is to compare and contrast the ending. Let us remember that this excellent story opens with the discovery of the narrator concerning his brother's arrest for drug possession and selling heroin. Key to note, however, is the way that this discovery makes the narrator feel trapped and surrounded by darkness:

I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it, and I couldn't believe it, and I read it again. Then perhaps I just stared at it, at the newsprint spelling out his name, spelling out the story. I stared at it in the swinging lights of the...

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