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Sonny's Blues

Sonny's Blues

by James Baldwin

Drugs and Alcohol Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

He had been picked up, the evening before, in a raid on an apartment downtown, for peddling and using heroin. (3)

This is the first we really hear of Sonny or his drug use, and the statement is shockingly direct.  There is no sugarcoating the presence of drugs in this story.

Quote #2

Yet it had happened and here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys who might, every one of them for all I knew, be popping off needles every time they went to the head.  Maybe it did more for them than algebra could. (4)

The narrator sort of senses the futility of trying to teach high school math to a group of kids who might never get out of Harlem.  Even he can acknowledge that there might be something more immediately gratifying in drugs.

Quote #3

I'm surprised at Sonny, though . . . I thought Sonny was a smart boy, I thought he was too smart to get hung. (21)

Sonny's friend says this to the narrator at the beginning of the story. It's an interesting statement coming from a drug user.  Being smart or not has nothing to do with becoming an addict, but this statement makes it sound like anyone with enough intelligence can take drugs and will themselves to not get addicted.

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