3. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.
Near the middle of Sonny’s performance at the end of the story, the narrator makes this claim about the music’s function. The statement also holds true for Baldwin’s writing. “Sonny’s Blues” is a story about suffering and triumph, subjects that have been addressed countless times by other writers. Baldwin believed that these were the only things worth writing about, and throughout his prolific career he returned to the same themes again and again. Each exploration was a chance at redemption, an opportunity to make meaning out of the cruelty and hardships in life. Sonny is trying to do precisely that with his music, just as Baldwin tried to do that with his stories and essays. Art becomes the redeemer, the means by which we can save our souls.