Themes and Meanings

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 436

The theme of Ann Petry’s “Solo on the Drums” may be summarized in the aphorism about music having charms “to soothe the savage breast.” Stated another way, the story speaks to the cathartic power of music in the lives of people, especially African Americans. From the ritual music of Africa, to the folk songs and spirituals of the slave plantations, to twentieth century blues songs, music has provided a vehicle through which African Americans have gained release from their pain and suffering without resorting to physical violence.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Solo on the Drums Study Guide

Subscribe Now

It is apparent almost from the beginning of this story that Kid Jones is experiencing deep emotional stress, compounded by having to share the stage night after night with his romantic rival. Through his music, however, he can vent all the rage inside of him: rage at the Marquis of Brund for stealing his wife, rage at his mother for despising him, rage at his wife for deserting him. As he plays, it seems to him that the music comes “not from the drums but from deep within himself; it was a sound that was being wrenched out of him—a violent, raging, roaring sound.” He thinks, “This is the story of my life, this is the story of my hate, this is all there is to me.” This raging, roaring sound is the sound of catharsis, the purging of his emotions, and when it is over, he is spent. Through his music, Jones is not only cleansed of hatred, past and present, but also is forced to face some of the harsher realities of his life. Now, the healing can begin.

In “Solo on the...

(The entire section contains 436 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Solo on the Drums study guide. You'll get access to all of the Solo on the Drums content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Analysis
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Previous

Summary

Next

Analysis

Explore Study Guides