Sonny's Blues

Essay by tnbxloboCollege, UndergraduateA-, September 2014

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"Sonny's Blues"

"For, while the tale of how we suffer … it's the only light we've got in all this darkness."

The narrator divides life into two simple categories during Sonny's performance: suffering and delight. We all struggle to find ways to cope with suffering, some of us, like Sonny, attempt to escape the pain and the feeling of entrapment, the darkness. Others, like the narrator, simply ignore their emotions and continue with their lives. Sonny turns to drugs at first in an attempt to escape the darkness. His decision to turn to drugs only adds to the pressures he faces being a black man in 1950s Harlem and a teenager with no parents. The problem of deciding what we want to do with our lives is something everyone has to deal with. The narrator struggles to understand the path Sonny has chosen to deal with this problem faced by all of humanity.

He cannot come to terms with the fact that Sonny is capable of change and believes that he will not be able to escape his drug addiction and may revert to his old ways. At the beginning, the narrator treats him with hostility and contempt when Sonny explains his aspiration to become a musician and leave Harlem, but as the story progresses the narrator slowly becomes more sympathetic and understanding of the decisions Sonny has made. Sonny has made mistakes but in the end he is able to use music to cope with the darkness that envelops us all, he has found his way to deal with life's suffering, he has found his light.