Use the comment section for this post to engage in a discussion of James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues.”
To see your requirements and parameters for our discussion, see our Reading/Discussing Short Stories guidelines. Strive for a vigorous exchange, including debating differing interpretations, but always strive for mutual recognition of each other, working toward enhancing our collective understanding of the story.
Watch your period’s group presentation on the story and see the DQs below, if you are looking for inspiration.
- A lot of the story takes place with characters on the move, whether this is on the subway, in a taxi, world travel, or walking the streets. What could this constant motion symbolize?
- Do you think the narrator sees potential in the boys he teaches or only sees their potentially rough futures?
- After leaving work, the narrator runs into one of Sonny’s old friends. What do you think this interaction symbolizes?
- There are short references to music scattered throughout the story, what do these inclusions add to the meaning of the story?
- Do you think that the narrator truly cares for his brother’s well being or is only in his life because of a moral family obligation?
- How does the narrator deal with his suffering?
- Will Sonny relapse and start using drugs again?
- If everyone suffers and deals with their suffering individually, then is all expression an expression of suffering?
- Why do those who grew up in darkness and suffer because of it raise their children in the same darkness?
- How does Sonny and the narrator’s fraternal relationship affect their interactions and issues?
- What do you think caused Sonny to start using drugs?
- What does the music being played symbolize at the end of the story?
- How does Grace dying have an impact on Sonny and the rest of the story?
- Do you think the story would be different if told from a different perspective?
- What is the correlation between the drink Sonny receives at the end of the story and his life?