What can we learn from "Sonny's Blues"?

We can learn about the inevitable nature of tragedy and loss from reading "Sonny's Blues." Throughout the story, the characters find a greater sense of peace when they are able to share their suffering with those they love.

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One of the things that we can learn from "Sonny's Blues" is that pain is universal. When Sonny is put in jail for using heroin, the narrator is unable to find empathy for his younger brother's emotional anguish. Instead, he asks what he could possibly do about his brother's addiction and then questions why Sonny simply wants to die. Another man attempts to correct this flawed thinking, insisting that "don't nobody want to die, ever."

After this conversation, the narrator doesn't even write to his struggling brother. Instead, he keeps his distance from his brother and his pain. This all changes when the narrator's young daughter tragically dies. Suddenly, pain is palpable to the narrator as well, and he seeks to reconnect with his estranged brother.

The narrator also recalls the pain of his father and, by extension, his mother. No one ever talked about his father's brother while he and Sonny were growing up. Sonny was shocked to learn about his uncle's murder and fairly stunned to realize that his father had silently shouldered incredible pain for many years after witnessing this tragedy.

Through various conflicts presented in the story, the universal nature of suffering and tragedy is made clear. Life is therefore presented as a challenging journey that is made more bearable by walking alongside others who can share in the inevitable heartaches along the way.

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