Sonny’s blues is about the narrator reading about one of his brother who has been nabbed by the authorities due to heroin peddling in the newspaper. The narrator and his brother are both black and one similarity with Ray Charles is that Ray Charles is black too and he had drug problems at some point in his career. Ray Charles grew up in the south in a time when there was a lot of discrimination against people of color and Ray Charles (1978) states that ‘Even compared to other blacks...
we were on the bottom of the ladder looking up at everyone else. Nothing below us except the ground.’ This is also the case with Sonny and his family, although they lived in Harlem. In Sonny’s Blues, after the death of the mother, the narrator and Sonny discuss what Sonny would like to do with his life and Sonny states that he wants to become a jazz musician and a piano player specifically.
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A little later, Sonny starts to skip school and plays jazz instead. Sonny’s playing the piano perplexes the household initially, but they came to accept it after realizing that Sonny was going to play jazz for his life. Ray Charles was a renowned jazz musician who, like Sonny, had to pass through many obstacles before he could become a well-respected musician. Again just like Sonny, Ray Charles’ family accepted him as a person who would play jazz music for many years and actually encouraged him.
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