Before reading the below post, please read “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin
The narrator of the short story, is Sonny’s brother. In a reflection looking back to a time when Sonny and him had a conversation about what Sonny wanted to do with his life. The brother is shocked sonny wants to be a musician let alone a Jazz musician. The brother seems to have a preconceived notion of what Jazz musicians are, an understand that was passed down by their father. The profession is not seen as an acceptable pursuit, as the brother first asks Sonny if he wants to be a classical musician.
However, it seems that this decision to become a Jazz musician is a selection from very few options. From outside sources, other writings, and this story, I understand there are not many opportunities for black Americans. In this short story Sonny, says he wants to join the military as a way to get out of Harlem and see the world. However, if he is to stay in Harlem, he might become part of the seedy underground community or illegal goings on and drugs. The future isn’t bright bursting with chances, but is very bleak.
As Sonny tries to communicate with his brother. The danger of pursuing one’s dream is a costly choice. There is struggle and sacrifice, some see that pain and some do not. But, to the musician or artist there are ways they must cope with their struggles in order to do what they do. Meaning, the cost of fulfilling his dream to be a Jazz musician, he must struggle, and in the past used drugs to help him get to the state, in which he was able to convey what he was feeling. However, as he demonstrates in the final moments of the story, he does not need drugs to get there., what he needs are talented musicians that push him to be the best he can be.