Author Question: What does the narrators mother ask him to do for Sonny? Does the olderbrother keep his promise? ... (Read 569 times)


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What does the narrators mother ask him to do for Sonny? Does the olderbrother keep his promise?
  What will be an ideal response?

Question 2

What event prompts the narrator to write his brother?
  What will be an ideal response?


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Answer to Question 1

The mother is the central moral figure of the story, but we never meet her in real time since she is dead. We do, however, hear her voice several times as a flashback. Her last conversation with the narrator ultimately becomes a crucial part of his impetus to reconcile with Sonny. When the narrator promises to take care of his kid brother, his mother warns him it will be hard, but it is clear the narrator doesnt fully understand what she is asking him to do. She has seen enough of the worlds trouble to be fatalistic: You may not be able to stop nothing from happening, she tells him, before adding, But you got to let him know yous there (par. 104). Baldwins story tells the story of what happened to Sonny because his brother failed him. Unlike Sonnys drug addict friend at the beginning, the narrator doesnt see that he is, in part, responsible for Sonnys demise. In one sense, Sonnys Blues is the story of the narrators slow, difficult process of living up to the promise he gave his mother

Answer to Question 2

  • The first sentence of Sonnys Blues tells the whole story: I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. The it referred to here is soon revealed when the narrator explains, He had been picked up, the evening before, in a raid on an apartment downtown, for peddling and using heroin (par. 3), and the he is Sonny. That the older brother learns about this in the newspaper demonstrates that he has been out of touch with his brother for many years. That the older brother is using public transportation to go to his job shows that he has taken an opposite path than his drugusing brother.

The other compelling motivation that spurred the narrator to actually write to his prodigal brother is the death of the narrators small daughter from polio: My trouble, the narrator confesses, made his real (par. 176).

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