The Effects of Slavery Depicted in A New Song by Langston Hughes and Fences by August Wilson

The Effects of Slavery Depicted in A New Song by Langston Hughes and Fences by August Wilson

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Slavery in America began in 1607. Blacks and a small percentage of whites were owned by people whom were called masters. The majority of slaves were involved with the responsibility of field work and picked such things as cotton, sugar, crops, etc. The blacks that were not slaves had only a limited amount of rights which included their own water fountain and the backseat of the bus. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, a movement to end slavery was in progress. By 1865, President Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation and the Land of the free had began. A New Song by Langston Hughes and Fences by August Wilson were both based on black characters. Both the poem and the play base their theme on their inherited history and the difference with today and back then.
A New Song by Langston Hughes is a poem that expressed black history. Condensed in a few stanzas, Hughes managed to capture the past, as well as the future, of the blacks. The poem’s begins with “I speak in a name of the black millions.” (365) It is obvious that Langston Hughes’ purpose of those words is to have the reader relate to the blacks. He wants the reader to be inside the head of a black person to reveal real thoughts and feelings. As Hughes continues, he embraces the reader with the bitterness of the narrator. “Bitter was the day when I bowed my back Beneath the slaver’s whip.” (366) This feeling of bitterness and the history of this poem relates to August Wilson’s Fences.
Fences focuses on a man named Troy who is living in his past. Troy strived during his youth to make it as a professional athlete. Even though this was years ago, Troy refuses to perceive a historical change in the acceptance of blacks, and he carries this sense of doubt with h...


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...istory. A New Song took experiences of a slave and molded it into a short poem. Fences ,explained in more modern day, was about a man who lived before and after slavery and couldn’t seem to distinguish the difference between the two. The characters in Langston Hughes’s poem revolted against whites and won their freedom. Hughes gave specific examples and used careful words to engage the reader thoroughly. August Wilson did the same in engaging his reader with a story that anyone could relate to.


Works Cited
Wilson, August. “Fences” Literature: Craft and Voice. Nicolas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009.53.Print

Hughes, Langston. “A New Song” Literature: Craft and Voice. Nicolas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009.53.Print

Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, (v 0.9.6) Copyright 2003-2006 Dictionary.com, LLC

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