Multiple-Choice Test on "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin

Students practice their AP Exam taking skills here. When a student chooses the correct answer to one of these multiple-choice questions, the correct answers will be revealed and explained.

Passage: The 8th to last paragraph of the story, beginning with "All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it," and including the next four paragraphs, ending with "this darkness." Link to this passage now.


1. The first five sentences of the passage best express which of the following ideas:

a. That art, like religion, has the power to be spiritually uplifting because it helps people understand their personal lives.
b. That only those who play an instrument can truly understand music, and for that reason listeners are largely cut off from the benefits of music.
c. That even the most accomplished musicians must struggle with their instruments to create music.
d. That great musicians take the unutterable sound of suffering and, for the benefit of themselves and their audiences, turn that sound into music.
e. That creating music can be dangerous to those who are mentally unstable.

2. The tone of this five-paragraph passage can best be described as:

a. Suspenseful
b. Melancholy
c. Uneasy
d. Ponderous
e. Joyful

3. Which of the following ways of understanding the role or purpose of these paragraphs in the story is the least likely:

a. The narrator observes Sonny's intense relationship to his community of musical friends.
b. The narrator finally understands how music both threatens to destroy the artist and helps him to ease his suffering.
c. The narrator explains why Sonny has been unable to live the life that his parents wanted for him.
d. Sonny's return to music after a year's absence shows his unquenchable need to be an artist, no matter what he might be risking.
e. Though the narrator suspects the jazz community precipitating Sonny's downfall, this community has also helped Sonny to rise up and realize his ambitions.


4. The narrator's description of the musician's relationship to his piano in paragraph two can be considered an analogy to which of the following concepts in the story?

a. A son's relationship to his father.
b. A parent's relationship to his child.
c. A artist's relationship to the tools he uses to create.
d. A teacher's relationship to his students.
e. A man's relationship to the constraints of his life.

5. The difference between the kind of music described in paragraph 4 and that described in paragraph 5 is best described as the difference between:

a. entertainment and art
b. sentiment and reason
c. realism and romance
d. blues and jazz
e. popular and classical

6. Which definition for the word "awful" (paragraph 2, sentence 2) best fits the narrator's meaning here?

a. extremely bad or unpleasant, terrible
b. formidable in nature or extent
c. commanding or inspiring dread
d. afraid
e. filled with respect

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