What internal conflicts are depicted in "Sonny's Blues"?

Internal conflicts in "Sonny's Blues" involve the narrator's conflicting feelings regarding his brother and his own aversion to the social problems around him.

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The narrator's two major internal conflicts deal with his feelings for his younger brother Sonny and his reaction to the poverty and crime going on around him. Due to Sonny's own problems with drug addiction, these two conflicts become intertwined.

Though his mother charged him with looking out for Sonny, the narrator has mixed feelings about his brother. On one hand, he loves him and wants the best for him. On the other, he is frustrated by Sonny's seeming unwillingness to finish school (not realizing Sonny left school for the navy as a way of trying to escape his drug addiction) and his eventual incarceration for selling and using heroin.

The narrator's relationship with his local community is similarly strained. Harlem is plagued by drug abuse, poverty, and other forms of crime. There is a sense of hopelessness in the atmosphere. However, community members come together to help one another as best they can, despite the obstacles they face on a daily basis.

The narrator is at first reluctant to be involved with his brother or the community, feeling secure in his respectable job and home life. When one of his children dies from polio, he ultimately changes his mind about reaching out.

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