How does Sonny evolve in the story "Sonny's Blues"?

Quick answer:

Sonny changes in that he learns how to use his music to express his pain.

Expert Answers

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Sonny changes because he embraces his music and transforms his pain into art. Sonny was always sensitive and had a keen understanding of people and his environment. This led to his "dropping out" of school as a teen. He was deeply unhappy in Harlem and sensed that he needed something else; he was already drawn to jazz and spent his school days hanging out with musicians. Eventually, he decided to join the Navy as a means of escape, but Sonny nevertheless turned to drugs when he returned to New York. He is arrested and convicted.

Sonny's pain comes from his sensitivity to others and his inability to express his feelings. These feelings are awkward and distressing, and his drug use is a way of suppressing them. The society he belongs to his hostile to him, not only because he is Black but because he has this emotional intelligence. His incarceration is less an attempt at "rehabilitation" than a punishment for being different and requiring empathy.

The music is therapeutic for Sonny, and it helps him heal. Through his music, he is able to express the feelings that have driven him throughout his life. More than that, the music helps him communicate to his brother what his life has been like.

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