I thought that “Sonny’s Blues” was an effective short story due to its application to the past and to anyone who has endured hardship in their life. These two characteristics of the story allow the reader to relate to Sonny on several levels.
I found the story quite interesting to begin with due to its setting in the 60’s in Harlem, where segregation influenced every-day life. The historical setting makes this story very believable and very authentic to the reader. The reader knows that numerous people who lived in Harlem in the 60’s had similar lifestyles to that of Sonny. Sonny’s lifestyle was strikingly similar to that of Malcolm X, who got caught up in the wrong crowd and took a plethora of drugs to ease his pain. Despite his past, Malcolm X eventually turned his pain into constructive expression. Similarly, Sonny was lost in society, not knowing where to turn. Initially, he turned to drugs to try to combat his pain. Eventually, he found the one thing that he could express his emotions through; playing jazz piano.
I feel that everyone who has experienced hardships in their life can relate to Sonny. Many times, it is difficult to know where to turn when so many negative things plague your everyday life. For Sonny, the pangs of segregation and isolation from society led him to use drugs as an outlet. By the end of the story, after the discourse with his brother, he was able to find solace in the keys of a piano. I think, just like everyone has their own yellow wall-paper, that everyone also has their own piano; something that allows them to outlet their emotions in a constructive way. Though the parallel might not be quite as serious as Sonny’s situation, everyone has something that they turn to in order to channel their emotions. Some “pianos” could simply be reading a book or shooting some hoops to outlet some emotional distress, or they could even be playing or listening to music, much like Sonny did.