Sonny’s Blues

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Creole is the leader of the band Sonny plays with at the jazz club. He is older than Sonny and the narrator, and clearly an experienced musician—the narrator realizes quickly when they start playing that Creole is in control of everything that is happening onstage. Creole is shown to be a compassionate guide to Sonny as he navigates his first performance after his time in jail. Sonny struggles to play at first, and it is Creole’s firm guidance and trust that finally pushes Sonny into playing his best.

Creole Quotes in Sonny’s Blues

The Sonny’s Blues quotes below are all either spoken by Creole or refer to Creole. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cycles of Suffering Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Sonny’s Blues published in 1995.
Sonny’s Blues Quotes

They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness, and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. 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.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Sonny, Creole
Related Symbols: Darkness
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

By this point, the narrator has listened to Sonny’s band for some time, and Sonny is beginning to hit his stride. Up until now, the narrator has tended to see music as a distraction from responsibility, and this is the moment in which he realizes that music actually grapples with suffering in a more honest way than the narrator ever has. The blues and jazz, the narrator realizes, are always the same story, and it’s the story of his whole community. Music doesn’t contradict the reality of suffering that the narrator sees all around him, but by making people hear that story, it gives people a way to confront their problems and sorrows, and it adds meaning to that suffering by making it beautiful. The narrator ends this passage by reflecting that amid all the darkness—symbolically, the suffering of everyone’s lives—music is the only light there is. This compares music to salvation. It’s a source of relief and comfort that isn’t frivolous, escapist, or destructive, as the narrator once believed.

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Creole Character Timeline in Sonny’s Blues

The timeline below shows where the character Creole appears in Sonny’s Blues. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Sonny’s Blues
Family Bonds Theme Icon
...that night), and the narrator meets some of Sonny’s musician friends, including a man named Creole. The narrator realizes how beloved and admired Sonny is in this circle of musicians, and... (full context)
Passion, Restraint, and Control Theme Icon
Salvation and Relief Theme Icon
Sonny, Creole, and another man begin to play onstage while the narrator watches from a table in... (full context)
Cycles of Suffering Theme Icon
Passion, Restraint, and Control Theme Icon
Salvation and Relief Theme Icon
...to have to make an instrument come alive. As the band begins the second set, Creole leads them into a different mood and something changes in Sonny’s playing. The narrator realizes... (full context)