Summarize the final epiphany in "Sonny's Blues" in the long paragraph beginning: "Then they all gathered around Sonny..."


Summarize the final epiphany in "Sonny's Blues" in the long paragraph beginning: "Then they all gathered around Sonny..." (on page 484). Make sure you mention the Middle Passage in your answer, and feel free to mention other scenes or passages in the story if you need to.

To be Summarized:  

Then they all gathered around Sonny and Sonny played. Every now and again one of them seemed to say, amen. Sonny's fingers filled the air with life, his life. But that life contained so many others. And Sonny went all the way back, he really began with the spare, flat statement of the opening phrase of the song. Then he began to make it his. It was very beautiful because it wasn't hurried and it was no longer a lament. I seemed to hear with what burning he had made it his, with what burning we had yet to make it ours, how we could cease lamenting. Free- dom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us to be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did. Yet, there was no battle in his face now. I heard what he had gone through, and would continue to go through until he came to rest in earth. He had made it his: that long line, of which we knew only Mama and Daddy. And he was giving it back, as everything must be given back, so that, passing through death, it can live forever. I saw my mother's face again, and felt, for the first time, how the stones of the road she had walked on must have bruised her feet. I saw the moonlit road where my father's brother died. And it brought something else back to me, and carried me past it, I saw my little girl again and felt Isabel's tears again, and I felt my own tears begin to rise. And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky. Then it was over. Creole and Sonny let out their breath, both soaking wet, and grinning. There was a lot of applause and some of it was real. In the dark, the girl came by and I asked her to take drinks to the bandstand. There was a long pause, while they talked up there in the indigo light and after awhile I saw the girl put a Scotch and milk on top of the piano for Sonny. He didn't seem to notice it, but just before they started playing again, he sipped from it and looked toward me, and nodded. Then he put it back on top of the piano. For me, then, as they began to play again, it glowed and shook above my brother's head like the very cup of trembling.



When the narrator hear Sonny plays he reminds of his own suffering, Sonny's suffering, and the suffering of generations back the. He says he can feel how the stones on the road bruised his mother's feet, and he can see the moonlit night when his father's brother died. He begins to cry, and remembers that outside the club the world is still waiting for them with all of its trouble. And throughout the story, Baldwin emphasizes the consequences of silence. The father suffered because he wouldn't talk about his brother's death, and Sonny and the narrator suffered because of their estrangement. Sonny's music is shown as an antidote to this silence is like an acknowledgement of suffering that doesn't take pain away, but at least makes its burdens easier to carry. Baldwin also lyrically connects the narrator's and Sonny's suffering to the suffering of their parents, suggesting an endless cycle of suffering and oppression within the black community

When the band pauses, the narrator asks a bartender to take drinks up to the bandstand. The narrator watches her place a glass of scotch and milk on top of Sonny's piano. Just before they start to play again, Sonny sips from it and meets eyes with the narrator. He puts the glass on top of his piano and begins to play, and the narrator watches the cup shake above Sonny's head "like the very cup of trembling."

Baldwin ends the story with an optimistic symbol, a reference to a moment in the Book of Isaiah when God takes suffering from mankind. The narrator, who has finally learned to empathize with and care for his brother, has found relief from his own suffering through Sonny's music. Baldwin doesn't imply that their lives will cease to be hard, but he at least suggests that their mutual love can spare them the worst of their sufferings.

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