49 pages 1 hour read

James Baldwin

Sonny's Blues

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1957

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Use this activity to engage all types of learners, while requiring that they refer to and incorporate details from the text over the course of the activity.

“Sonny’s Blues: A Soundtrack”

Students will identify the key events in the short story, and then select music soundtracks to accentuate each key event from the plot.

Over the course of the narrative, the narrator’s relationship with Sonny transforms. What key events cause the estrangement in their relationship? What events bring about their reconciliation? What role does music play in this changing relationship? Create a multimedia presentation that:

  • Identifies the key events of the plot of “Sonny’s Blues” on a plot diagram
  • Determines whether each key event estranges or reconciles the brothers
  • Pairs a piece of jazz music to accentuate each of the key events
  • Includes an explanation for the pairing of each music selection with the key event

Present your multimedia presentations to your classmates. Reflect on others’ presentations in terms of connection to the story.

Teaching Suggestion: It might be helpful to identify the same number of key events for the student presentations as a whole group before beginning the project. This activity offers a chance to discuss the theme of the Healing Power of Music.

Differentiation Suggestion: For visual learners, it might be helpful to identify key events on a plot diagram.

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