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Read the story carefully, then read the associated questions. Bearing those in mind, go back and reread the story to see how the questions influence your interpretation.
1. For this story, which elements are chronic, and which are acute?
2. We are only given one PoV here, but we get a lot of insight into who the titular character (Sonny) is through this narrator’s single lens as he deals with people who know about Sonny. What are some of the ways this happens? By the end, the Narrator sees Sonny as a completely different person than who he thought he was. Illustrate some of the moves Baldwin makes to effect this change.
3. Race and racism play a somewhat peripheral and yet crucial role in this story. Thematically, it pervades the background of the narrative, looming, and menacing. This is perhaps best exemplified by the horrific anecdote Mama shares about the death of her late brother-in-law (the uncle of Sonny and the Narrator), who was struck by a vehicle full of white men. Why do we get this story, and in what ways do you think Baldwin is creating a thematic overtone for this story’s crucial element of music?