Sonny’s Blues

Isabel is the narrator’s wife. She is shown to be a kind and understanding person who is happy to take Sonny into their family, despite his troubles. Isabel’s great sorrow was witnessing the agonizing death of their daughter Grace, and she often cries to the narrator about it at night or wakes up with nightmares. Despite having experienced the traumatic loss of a child, she and the narrator seem to have a kind and loving marriage.

Isabel Quotes in Sonny’s Blues

The Sonny’s Blues quotes below are all either spoken by Isabel or refer to Isabel. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Sonny’s Blues published in 1995.
Sonny’s Blues Quotes

I saw my mother’s face again, and felt, for the first time, how the stones of the road she had walked on must have bruised her feet. I saw the moonlit road where my father’s brother died. And it brought something else back to me, and carried me past it, I saw my little girl again and felt Isabel’s tears again, and I felt my own tears begin to rise. And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky.

Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
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Isabel Character Timeline in Sonny’s Blues

The timeline below shows where the character Isabel 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
After the last bell of the school day, the narrator heads home to tell Isabel, his wife, the news. In the courtyard of the school, he sees someone he mistakes... (full context)
Family Bonds Theme Icon
...first night living with the narrator’s family is successful—the narrator’s two sons like him, and Isabel seems glad to have him there. The narrator, though, seems on edge, looking for clues... (full context)
Cycles of Suffering Theme Icon
Family Bonds Theme Icon
...he has arranged for his wife’s family to take Sonny in. This isn’t ideal, as Isabel’s parents are touchy and hadn’t approved of her marriage to the narrator. Seeming to understand... (full context)
Family Bonds Theme Icon
Passion, Restraint, and Control Theme Icon
Isabel’s letters describe to the narrator how serious Sonny is about his music—she’s worried, even, about... (full context)
Cycles of Suffering Theme Icon
Family Bonds Theme Icon
Salvation and Relief Theme Icon
The narrator quickly describes his daughter Grace’s agonizing death from polio. Isabel saw Grace die, and her nightmares about it still wake her up at night. The... (full context)