Sonnys Blues setting contributes to the storys main theme by the idea behind of the love of two brothers extends beyond the relationship between both brothers but also the community as a whole. Harlem is affected greatly by drugs, poverty, and frustration, but members of the community come together to watch over and protect one another to fall into a dangerous pit. In the story the adults spend their Saturday afternoons sharing stories, providing a sense of warmth and protection to the children around them. The narrator, although initially angered by one of Sonnys old friends, in the end recognizes his connection to the man by showing how he reminds him of Sonny and offers him money. Even Sonny, for all his problems he has with drugs, helps the people around him endure and survive by channeling their frustrated desires into his music
The drugs on the streets of Harlem have affected both the narrator and Sonny very deeply. It made Sonny start doing bad things and it made the narrator turn his back on his brother he was supposed to protect. Both the narrator and Sonny wanted to get out of Harlem but only Sonny decided to do something but went on the bad road by doing drugs to feel free from everything while he played his piano while the older brother did nothing about it because he was the realistic type of person. The drugs made Sonny do things that he wouldnt have ever done in his entire life but he had no one to help him through his problems and no one would listen because his brother went off to World War II and his mother had died so he was all alone where the only escape is doing drugs.
The poverty of Harlem affected greatly the theme of brotherly love by making hard for both brothers to be successful in life because many expected them to fail. But this also help unite the neighborhood into helping each other out like when all the families were together making the kids feel everything will be ok even though it was growing dark which symbolizes all the bad things of Harlem. Also it put a strain in the relationship between the two brothers by the narrator wanting to Sonny to go to school and get job that pays well and leave Harlem but Sonny wanted to follow his dream which caused both brothers to drift apart
The setting affects the theme of the story by the message of how one goes about establishing their identity on different levels. Some of the examples are the military service, and the life in Harlem. The military service plays an important role in the changing of the narrators identity as it helps him gain respect and be recognized by the neighborhood, something that Sonny Wants. Growing up in Harlem is the most important setting because the brothers endured several hardships, like the drugs and the poverty, in Harlem, which allowed them to establish and maintain a certain identity of the one trying to be good and the other trying to do the same but in a bad way. But both the narrator and Sonny in the end learn to live in peace with each other and respect each others way of life.