Sonny's Blues Questions and Answers

Sonny's Blues

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...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2018, 2:11 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

In the beginning of the story the narrator thinks about the way he has compartmentalized the pain and fear he feels regarding his brother Sonny. He reads about Sonny's arrest in a drug raid and is...

Latest answer posted March 12, 2020, 10:14 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

After the narrator of "Sonny's Blues" loses his daughter to the effects of polio, his loss causes him to feel that he can better understand Sonny's troubles. Later, he gains a greater understanding...

Latest answer posted December 10, 2017, 4:38 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The narrator, Sonny's brother, asks him why he uses heroin. It is hard for this older brother, the upstanding sibling who has made a life for himself as a public school teacher, to understand why...

Latest answer posted January 27, 2020, 1:22 am (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The climax of "Sonny's Blues" occurs after Sonny returns to Harlem to live in Greenwich Village, and they have a heated argument. James Baldwin, who composed songs at one time for Ray Charles...

Latest answer posted September 30, 2015, 8:45 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

There are a lot of conflicts at work in "Sonny's Blues." The overarching conflict in the story is that between black existence and white society, and this has strongly influenced how the narrator...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2019, 10:27 am (UTC)

5 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

Instead of organizing his recollections in chronological order, the narrator in "Sonny's Blues" focuses on the ways his relationship with his brother has evolved with time—and not always...

Latest answer posted September 6, 2019, 1:13 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The narrator of "Sonny's Blues" sees himself as a responsible family man who has used his intelligence and hard work to escape from his background. His brother, Sonny, is the opposite, a failure...

Latest answer posted October 7, 2021, 1:27 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

The street revival is a significant episode in James Baldwin's story entitled "Sonny's Blues" because the brother takes notice of something in Sonny. As the brother looks across the street where a...

Latest answer posted January 30, 2018, 11:00 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

In terms of scotch and milk being mixed, scotch is a drink associated with adulthood, and therefore with knowledge. On the other hand, and ambiguously, scotch (and other narcotics, like Sonny's...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2020, 7:24 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

In James Baldwin's short story "Sonny's Blues," we see a great deal of friction between the narrator and his younger brother, Sonny. Despite the promise he made to his mother to be there for his...

Latest answer posted June 12, 2020, 5:56 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Sonny’s Blues in chronological plot order: Sonny’s dad’s brother is run over by a car of white men long before his sons are born, and it can be inferred that this trauma is at the root of his...

Latest answer posted March 20, 2019, 3:13 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

In medias res is a Latin phrase meaning “into the middle of things.” This is an important literary tactic employed by many writers. In using in medias res, writers bypass the exposition and...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2019, 11:24 pm (UTC)

4 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

With the brother of Sonny as narrator, Baldwin affords the reader not only insight into the character of the narrator, but also insight into the character of Sonny as together they unite in their...

Latest answer posted March 27, 2011, 1:00 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

In the short story "Sonny's Blues" by Baldwin, the author uses an interesting narrative technique in the work that is very effective. This technique involves jumping forwards and backwards in time...

Latest answer posted February 26, 2018, 2:01 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The flashbacks are an important and effective technique in this story because they enable the narrator to convey to his readers important snippets of Sonny's life that help us to empathize with...

Latest answer posted March 2, 2020, 3:00 am (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The flashback scene in which the narrator's mother reveals the story of his uncle's death occurs at a pivotal point in the story. The narrator's father has just died, and the narrator is forced to...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2019, 2:08 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The narrator's mother asks him to keep an eye on his younger brother. But the narrator doesn't understand Sonny, and quickly dismisses Sonny when he gets into trouble. As Sonny's friend in the...

Latest answer posted November 2, 2007, 12:30 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

To borrow a phrase from our modern society: It's complicated. The narrator does have his brother's best interests at heart. He wants to see Sonny do well and be happy—and he thinks that he, as the...

Latest answer posted February 15, 2020, 11:43 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

First, it's important to define exactly what a climax is and how it functions in a story. A climax occurs when the conflict hits its highest point, and it becomes clear how the story will be...

Latest answer posted March 2, 2020, 1:33 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

I noticed that theme is often confused with and stated as a topic, example: family relationships. Theme is not a topic, theme is what the author wants you to think about or to understand. It is...

Latest answer posted October 7, 2016, 3:11 am (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

Sonny's notebook with the green cover may symbolize the narrator's memories of Sonny as a young schoolboy and the rebirth and renewal of Sonny's situation and his relationship with the narrator....

Latest answer posted November 5, 2021, 3:47 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Mama tells the narrator about his uncle because she wants him to know "It ain't only the bad ones, nor yet the dumb ones that gets sucked under" in their environment. She tells of the...

Latest answer posted September 3, 2015, 8:08 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

In James Baldwin's story “Sonny's Blues,” the author describes Sonny's return to music after his time in prison; he uses imagery and metaphors to describe the music and its effects on Sonny. Let's...

Latest answer posted April 15, 2022, 12:24 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Sonny is a sympathetic character, because his negative behavior can be explained by the pain and isolation he feels. Sonny has many bad traits. He's often been the bane of his more stable, steady...

Latest answer posted March 2, 2019, 6:52 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The brothers in "Sonny's Blues" go to the jazz club after having a revelatory conversation in which the older brother listens to Sonny's point of view for the first time. He learns that Sonny...

Latest answer posted February 20, 2010, 12:08 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

There is an old adage that states, "Happiness was born a twin"; indeed, one must share with others his/her joyful state for that emotion to be fully realized. By the same token, sorrow must be...

Latest answer posted July 4, 2014, 5:19 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

When Sonny gets out of prison, his brother, the story's narrator, picks him up. The two are driving through New York when Sonny's brother remembers that Sonny had once wanted to go to India: Years...

Latest answer posted September 14, 2020, 12:03 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

The narrator and his brother Sonny have had a strained relationship for a long time. While Sonny was in high school (the narrator is 7 years older), the brothers lost their mother soon after losing...

Latest answer posted May 11, 2019, 12:28 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

James Baldwin effectively creates a blues/mournful tone in his story of "Sonny's Blues" by having the disappointed brother read about Sonny in the paper "trapped in the darkness which roared...

Latest answer posted August 31, 2009, 11:26 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Sonny is blue about life and being outcast. In this sense, "blue" means sad, unhappy, despondent. Sonny is also a musician and when he plays, he plays African American invented music, bebop jazz...

Latest answer posted February 20, 2010, 4:31 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

Th narrator's reaction to pain and human loss is to shut down emotionally. For example, he cuts Sonny off until the polio death of his own young daughter brings a pain he can't deny. This causes...

Latest answer posted April 28, 2020, 5:48 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Throughout "Sonny's Blues," the external conflict between the narrator and Sonny mostly relates to Sonny's refusal to attend school in favor of spending time with his music. This conflict is the...

Latest answer posted October 9, 2021, 11:22 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

When the narrator last saw his mother, he was told about a long-dead uncle he was never aware existed. This man was his father's brother, and like Sonny, he had a strong passion for music. For a...

Latest answer posted October 8, 2021, 11:22 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

A key theme to Baldwin's literature is the way that art is shown to be able to either alleviate people's suffering or to save them from it altogether. An important part of this story is the way...

Latest answer posted August 15, 2011, 8:22 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Because James Baldwin’s story “Sonny’s Blues” is not primarily about conflict between people, one cannot identify a human antagonist. The first-person narrator, who is the protagonist, tends to see...

Latest answer posted August 4, 2020, 12:33 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

Sonny and his brother, the narrator of the story, are similar in that they both want to escape from Harlem, the neighborhood in which they grew up. The narrator escapes Harlem through marriage and...

Latest answer posted January 1, 2018, 2:17 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

Baldwin's story is told in the first person, by Sonny's brother. Because of the point of view, the information we have about Sonny and his family is limited by what the narrator tells us. For...

Latest answer posted July 18, 2019, 1:47 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The narrator's relationship with his younger brother Sonny definitely changes over the course of their lives. At the beginning of the story, Sonny is in prison, and the narrator learns of this from...

Latest answer posted March 18, 2019, 5:46 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The tone is a hopeful one, which would indicate that it is an optimistic one. At the end of the story, the narrator, Sonny's brother, has an epiphany about Sonny. He realizes that Sonny's music...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2008, 7:09 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

While Sonny is with Isabel's family, he certainly does take advantage of the opportunity to practice on the piano and listen to music. This becomes his life. The narrator adds that Sonny is not...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2015, 8:03 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

The resolution of a story comes after the climax. In "Sonny's Blues," the story reaches its climax as the narrator listens to and is moved by Sonny's music in a jazz club and suddenly understands...

Latest answer posted October 9, 2021, 12:49 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

In his 1957 short story "Sonny's Blues," James Baldwin uses a variety of literary elements to develop complex narrative with multiple thematic concerns. The story is told from a first-person point...

Latest answer posted April 16, 2020, 8:05 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

The narrator is estranged from his brother in the beginning of the story, unable to relate to the decisions Sonny has made as he's grown into adulthood. He recalls that when Sonny was the age of...

Latest answer posted August 28, 2019, 10:09 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

The narrator of "Sonny's Blues" describes the neighborhood as "filled with a hidden menace which was its very breath of life." Though the place where he lives is a relatively new housing project,...

Latest answer posted January 28, 2018, 3:41 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

The narrator of James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" seems to cope with fear and pain by not really coping with them at all. In the beginning of the story, when he reads about Sonny's arrest in a...

Latest answer posted March 19, 2019, 5:31 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

After Sonny's brother reads in the paper about Sonny's arrest, and an old friend of Sonny's meets him in the school parking lot, he is reminded of how he has given up; how he made a promise to...

Latest answer posted February 20, 2010, 11:44 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Sonny's Blues

The narrator of the story, Sonny's brother, who is seven years older than Sonny, struggles with many internal conflicts. The first conflict concerns the theme of the loss of innocence. At the onset...

Latest answer posted January 2, 2018, 1:34 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

A flashback occurs when the narrator deviates from the main timeframe of the narrative in order to recall something which happened much earlier. Given that "Sonny's Blues" dwells on the narrator's...

Latest answer posted September 29, 2018, 2:19 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

Sonny's Blues

For the narrator, as for so many others, Harlem in the early 1950s is a trap, a place from which it is virtually impossible to escape. The Harlem that is depicted in “Sonny's Blues” is a brutal...

Latest answer posted September 14, 2020, 12:15 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

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