Sony’s Blues

Sony’s Blues

Use your notes from class to develop an interpretive thesis using the two music scenes from Sonny’s Blues. What message does Baldwin convey to the reader?


  • You must quote at least twice from Sonny’s Blues
  • You must quote at least once from James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”: A Message in Music


Audience and Purpose: Your audience is someone familiar with the story so summary should be limited. The purpose of the essay is to demonstrate your critical thinking skills as well as your understanding of the essay form as described both in class and this handout.


This essay addresses the following curriculum goals:

  1. Analysis of elements in a primary literary text
  2. Using a secondary source to support this analysis

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Essay Structure

Meeting these standards is a requirement for acceptance of your draft and revisions.



  • Open the essay with:
  • A question
  • A quotation: NOT a quotation from the text, but perhaps a quote from a Baldwin interview
  • OR an anecdote to help engage your reader and introduce them to the general ideas that are important in your essay
  • For this essay, be sure to state title and author somewhere in the first paragraph; your thesis may occur anywhere in the first paragraph.


Body Paragraphs

The job of a body paragraph is to persuade the reader

  • Use summary of text sparingly. If in doubt, limit your summary to Context. Use 1-2 sentences of summary to orient your reader and move on to evidence and analysis.
  • Use CQC format Context (set up), Quote, Commentary for body paragraph structure. Commentary should not summarize the quote but interpret the passage and explain to the reader how evidence supports your thesis.



A good conclusion helps readers understand what they have learned.

  • Refer to your thesis, and then expand to a more general conclusion that reminds readers of the significance of your discussion.
  • If you have covered several main points, you can remind the readers of them. Do more than provide a summary.
  • End with an impact: a provocative quotation, a vivid image or call for action.


Grading Criteria:

  • See outline of the essay form above and the rubric used in class for analysis/discussion of anonymous student work. Please include all process work with your drafts.



  • New Times Roman 12pt font, double space
  • Proper MLA format and citation standards observed.
  • Paper is edited for spelling, sentence structure, punctuation and grammar.
  • You will not need a works cited page for this paper.


Selecting Evidence

  • Does your quote help the reader understand your thesis?
  • Limit your quotes to phrases or one sentence for this paper.


Quoting Accurately

Use quotation marks to indicate exact words from the text, include page number in parenthesis at the end of the quote.

Example of MLA format:

If you use the author’s name, cite page # only: Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).

If your sentence does not use author’s name cite name and page #: Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).


Paraphrase example: Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).

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