In Baldwin's story "Sonny's Blues," Creole is more like the father who awaits the prodigal son(s), awaiting the return of Sonny so that he can guide him to understanding. Likewise, he seeks to guide Sonny's brother, the narrator, to a better understanding of his brother Sonny. For, he places the narrator in a dark, secluded corner where he can lose his sense of sense and totally focus upon the stage and Sonny.
The narrator states that all of he knows of music is
what we mainly, or hear corroborated, are personal private, vanishing evocation. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours. I just watched Sonny's face.
At first, the narrator realizes, Sonny is not "with it." But as Creole holds Sonny back, he is "having a dialogue with Sonny."
He was Sonny's witness that deep water and drowning were not the same thing--he had been there, and he knew. And he wanted Sonny to know.
When Sonny finally gets "in the water," Creole loosens his "rein," and Sonny plays as "Something began to happen." As the music "tightened and deepend, apprehension began to beat the air." What the blues are is communicated. What the blues are to Sonny, specifically, is communicate to the narrator, and he hears what Sonny speaks on the piano. No longer a "lament," Sonny's blues become freedom as he gives it back to those who follow him, "the only light we've got in all this darkness," as the narrator declares.
In returning to his father-figure, Sonny finds his place in the community of man and communicates, thus giving his life meaning. Symbolizing this communion with others, Sonny takes a sip from a Scotch and milk brought by a girl and placed upon the piano. Baldwin's narrator describes it,
For me, as they began to play again, it glowed and shook above my brother's head like the very cup of trembling.