by James Baldwin
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Light appears in many forms throughout "Sonny's Blues" – as moonlight, as a spotlight, sometimes even as the absence of light. Light illuminates, both literally and figuratively. When Sonny and the narrator's mother tell the narrator about how their uncle passed away, she recalls a moonlit night and a moonlit road. In that moment she reveals a family secret to her son that he never knew about (the fact that he and Sonny had an uncle who was killed). When Sonny is playing in the club, the spotlight on him turns blue and the narrator experiences a sort of revelation about his brother. And when Sonny places the Scotch and milk above him on the piano in the final scene, the narrator says that it "glowed" (1239), just as Sonny seems to be glowing in the light of his music.