Does Sonny die in "Sonny's Blues"?

Quick answer:

No, Sonny does not die in "Sonny's Blues."

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Sonny has substance abuse issues and spends time in prison, but he does not die in the story "Sonny's Blues."

Told from the point of view of his older brother, the story chronicles Sonny's life, which includes growing up in Harlem, loving music, and ending up in prison. The older brother, who has followed a straight and narrow path, becoming a teacher, marrying, and having a family, expresses judgment toward Sonny. For a long time, the older brother doesn't contact Sonny in prison. It is only the death of his daughter from polio that opens up his heart to reconnect with his brother.

When the older brother goes to hear Sonny play at a jazz club, he is surprised at the respect with which Sonny is treated. He is also deeply moved by the blues music Sonny plays. He realizes that his brother has managed to turn the emotional blues—the pain and despair of his life—into the blues, a form of music. Through his art, he is able to touch the souls of other people, including his older brother.

This is a story about really seeing and understanding someone you have known your whole life for the first time. When the older brother is able to get out of his own context and into Sonny's world and mindset, his view changes and he grows as a person.

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