Sonny's Blues

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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The narrator and his brother Sonny have different ambitions and desires. Since Sonny doesn't follow the path his brother hopes he would, their lives turn in different ways. The narrator chooses the safe way and Sonny likes taking risks. The narrator is trying to escape the constant threatening stigma on the black community and is doing everything he can to run away from it. He's educated and has a respectful job as an algebra teacher. The narrator feels threatened by Sonny's liking and desire to play the blues, and tries to influence his life because of his own selfishness. When Sonny is caught for using and selling drugs and is sentenced to Jail, the narrator feels shame but at the same time, he also feels that he betrayed Sonny by not being there for him when he needed him the most.

The differences between Sonny and the narrator are further emphasized when they converse about jazz musicians.

"˜ "You mean- like Louis Armstrong?" His face closed as though I'd struck him. "No. I'm not talking about non of that old-time, down home crap." "¦ "Bird! Charlie Parker! Don't they teach you nothing in the goddam army?" ' It seems like Sonny is personally offended by his brother's ignorance, associating Louis Armstrong with the kind of music that he wants to play. Sonny, unlike his brother, is comfortable in his own skin; he doesn't feel like he has to prove anybody who or what he is. He is black, and he loves jazz and that's all there is to it. The narrator on the other hand is trying to do everything he can to free himself from the black society and culture. He's constantly worried of what others would think of him, making sure that his behavior doesn't follow a...

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