In "Sonny's Blues", how does society (Harlem) influence (positive or negative) the two brothers? What is Sonny's biggest vice?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Like the other educator response states, Harlem is portrayed as a place full of temptations. Sonny’s brother, to an extent, consequently sees Harlem as a place that can infect one’s psyche and prevent one from achieving success in life. Sonny’s brother almost resents the problems he sees in Harlem and generally blames people who give in to these temptations rather than blaming the system of cyclical poverty. He views himself as superior to those who weren’t able to resist the temptations and “make it.”

This brings us to Sonny himself, whom his brother sees as the ultimate Harlem failure. Sonny certainly is a drug addict, and perhaps if he had had a more affluent upbringing, he wouldn’t have fallen into addiction. However, I think his biggest vice—if you could call it that—is his love of music. Sonny’s dedication to his dream of becoming a musician forced him to give up a more traditional lifestyle and put him in situations where drugs were readily available....

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 558 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team