The Changes in the Narrator\'s View of Sonny

Can one know another\'s thoughts? Through dialogue, actions, and events, the thoughts and views
of a man of whom we know not even a name are shown. The man is the narrator of "Sonny\'s Blues" and
his thoughts we are shown are those directed towards his brother. Over the course of the story, there are
three major stages or phases that the narrator goes through, in which his thoughts about his brother
change. We see that those stages of thought vary greatly over the narrator\'s life, from confusion about his
brother to understanding. Each phase brings different views of his own responsibility toward his brother,
his brother\'s manhood, and his brother\'s sense of reality.
Through out the story, three of the narrator\'s view are changed, the first of which is Sonny\'s
manhood. During the first phase, early in the story, the narrator showed that he viewed Sonny as a child.
"I was beginning to realize that I\'d never seen him so upset before... [and decided this was] one of those
things kids go through and that I shouldn\'t make it seem important."(49) This quote is an example of how
the narrator viewed his brother. He not only thought Sonny acted as a kid, but was also too young to be
planning a future or career. "He still wasn\'t a man yet, he was still a child, and they had to watch out for
him in all kinds of ways."(51) The narrator decided that he would plan Sonny\'s future and when Sonny
rebelled, the narrator saw it as yet another childish action.
Another way in which the narrator\'s overall view changed was his view on whether Sonny\'s idea
of reality was sound. Still in the first phase, the narrator often presents his view of reality and when Sonny
rejects it, the narrator feels Sonny is being unreasonable. For instance, "\'Well Sonny,\' I said, gently, "you
know people can\'t always do exactly what they want to do-\' \'No I don\'t think that,\' said Sonny, surprising
me."(49) Actually, Sonny understood life much more clearly than the narrator, but the narrator did not
realize that then. He thought that perhaps Sonny was just too young or too high on drugs to understand
what life was about.
Finally, the third view changed was the narrator\'s responsibility towards Sonny. Before the
brothers\' mother died, the narrator promised he would take it upon himself to take care of Sonny should
the mother die. The narrator viewed Sonny as a responsibility he had. Because of the promise made to his
mother, he felt he owed it to his mother to take care of Sonny. Therefore, whenever he did something for
Sonny it was because his mother had wanted him to, not because he cared about Sonny. As soon as taking
care of Sonny stopped working with his schedule, he sent him to his mother-in-law\'s house.
During the story, however, a long separation brought the narrator into his second stage of
thinking, and changed his views of Sonny. The narrator recognized that Sonny wasn\'t just a kid any more.
Sonny had been in the Navy and had been living on his own for some time. Yet he didn\'t see him as a
man either. "He was a man by then, of course, but I wasn\'t willing to see it."(52) He saw Sonny as a
teenager of sorts. Sonny dressed strangely, became family with strange friends, and listened to still
stranger music." In the narrator\'s eyes, Sonny foolishly thought he knew everything.
Even though the narrator\'s views on Sonny\'s manhood changed, during the second stage his
feelings about Sonny\'s sense of reality didn\'t. When he saw Sonny after Sonny\'s stay in the Navy, the
narrator still viewed Sonny as if he were on drugs. "He carried himself, loose and dreamlike all the time,
...and his music seemed to be merely an excuse for the life he led. It sounded just that weird and
disordered."(52) He thought that Sonny had been driven even farther from reality than before. He thought
that Sonny\'s view of reality was so distorted that he might as well have been dead.
Unlike his views on Sonny\'s sanity, when his views on Sonny\'s manhood changed so he thought,
did his responsibility toward Sonny. He began fighting regularly with Sonny, "Then [Sonny] stood up and
he told me not to worry about him anymore in life, that as he was dead as far as I was concerned."(52)
During this time in which the