James Baldwin wrote his short story "Sonny's Blues" in a staggered series of flashbacks that jump back and forth in time. The story begins as the narrator finds out that his brother, Sonny, has been arrested for drug possession, and then it takes us through the brothers’ childhood and youth, in between scenes that recount the present day, in which Sonny has come back to Harlem. The order that Baldwin writes various events is crucial, because it affects the reader’s sympathies. At the start of the story, the narrator seems unduly annoyed with his brother, as if Sonny’s troubles are merely a bother. As the story progresses and we learn of the boys' upbringing and struggles, we begin to feel for the narrator, who has always wished to do right by his younger brother, even if he does not understand all of Sonny’s decisions. And, just as the reader might get frustrated with Sonny for bringing so much chaos and hardship into his brother’s life, we learn more about his suffering and how hard Sonny tried to escape his drug abuse by escaping his life in Harlem. The story ends with the narrator watching his brother on stage, immersed in the music that is his salvation; by this point in the story, Baldwin has built quite a store of sympathy and understanding for both characters, and this makes the ending cathartic and even triumphant.