When Sonny finally appears in the story is he different from what the reader expects?
Consider how the discussion of the newspaper article and the intro of Sonny's friend at the start of the story may shade the readers expectations for Sonny's character
When the narrator/brother first reads of Sonny's arrest for heroine, he reads as though in a dream, incredulous; he "kept it outside" of himself for a long time as he has not wanted to know about Sonny. Then, when he sees the former friend of Sonny's, the narrator feels hatred for him because he shows the narrator what a drug addict looks like. As he talks to the narrator, this man takes Sonny's brother
...some place I didn't want to go. I certainly didn't want to know how it felt. It filled everything, the people, the houses, the music, the dark, ...with menace; and this menace was their reality.
There is something threatening and dark about the user of heroine, and at the same time, there is something tragic. When tragedy, then, strikes the narrator, his trouble makes Sonny's real to him. Sonny again becomes a person to the narrator; he sees again the baby brother he never knew look
out from the depths of his private life, like an animal waiting to be coaxed into the light.
For the reader, the experience of reading about Sonny may be similar if one has known someone who has been addicted, or has also felt tragedy. However, if one has not, then, the appearance of Sonny as an apparently normal man returning to his old neighborhood of Harlem who jokes with his brother in the taxi cab may surprise the reader.
However, there is yet some of the fear of Sonny that the narrator has felt when he first reads of his brother's arrest in the newspaper and in his conversation with Sonny's old friend. For, as the narrator writes,
Those who got out always left something of themselves behind, as some animals amputate a leg and leave it in the trap....It's always at the hour of trouble and confrontation that the missing member aches.
Clearly, there are issues which the brothers must address, issues they must together resolve.