Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

For Soupspoon, life is a tragedy and full of pain, yet it is redeemable in the beauty of the blues. This is the story of the blues that Soupspoon conveys to Kiki, a story that he is determined to share with the world. Years earlier, he was asked to provide an account of his career, but his life was too complicated and his suffering too great to contemplate telling his own tale. Now confronting certain death, Soupspoon finds he has the motivation and the perspective to organize his experiences into a narrative, which he composes on a tape recorder as he relates to Kiki and others his memories.

Soupspoon regards RL’s music as the essence of the blues—perhaps because RL did not permit any event or experience to distract him from the making of music. RL, then, is the blues personified, always beset with suffering yet indomitable and inimitable. The latter point is what Soupspoon emphasizes; that is, he regards himself as a pale imitation of RL, because RL is the epitome of a form of music that has allowed a whole people to endure suffering and even to prevail by creating great art. Thus RL is a “dream” in the sense that he represents the artist’s aspirations, the ideal of a great music that transcends life’s limitations and the frailties of the artists that perform that music. By recounting his own dream of RL, Soupspoon ennobles not only his life but also the strivings of the people that blues artists muse about in their music.