When reading the literature of Langston Hughes, I cant help but feeling energetically charged and inspired. Equality, freedom, empowerment, renaissance, justice and perseverance, are just a taste of the subject matter Hughes offers. He amplifies his voice and beliefs through his works which are firmly rooted in race pride and race feeling. Hughes committed himself both to writing and to writing mainly about African Americans. His early love for the “wonderful world of books” was sparked by loneliness and parental neglect. He would soon lose himself in the works of Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence, Carl Sandburg and other literary greats which would lead to enhancing his ever so growing style and grace of oeuvre. Such talent, character, and willpower could only come from one’s life experiences. Hughes had allot to owe to influences such as his grandmother and great uncle John Mercer Langston - a famous African American abolitionist. These influential individuals helped mold Hughes, and their affect shines brightly through his literary works of art.
One of the most important of the influential people in Langston Hughes’ life was his grandmother. The ability to persevere through hardships and trials were her teachings. Lessons also learned were those of strength and determination. The proof of this is evident in a few of his literary works where a mother figure encourages and teaches her child, or student, life lessons on
staying the course. In the poem “Mother to Son” a mother tells of her persistence through life’s obstacles, encouraging her son not to give up.
“Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”
She starts here with telling her son how hard life has been for her with the mentioning of the metaphor ‘crystal stair’, which is a reference of wealth and reaching the top.
“It's had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Here she explains why her life hasn’t been a “crystal stair”, and goes into detail about the state of poverty she’s been in.
“But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,”
Explained here is her method of overcoming the odds. Notice the mentioning of stairs here also. A ‘landin’ or ‘landing’, is a level area on top of a staircase that is usually between one flight of stairs and another. She’s saying here that though climbing life’s stairs came with the addition of hardships, she still managed to reach the next level.
It’s no secret that inequality and racial discriminations were high back in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Langston Hughes was able to use his work to counterattack this way of thinking in America. He not only led a movement, but also set an example for others to follow. In the poems I stated above, you can tell the Harlem Renaissance influences on his
Like most, the stories we hear as children leave lasting impacts in our heads and stay with us for lifetimes. Hughes was greatly influenced by the stories told by his grandmother as they instilled a sense of racial pride that would become a recurring theme in his works as well as become a staple in the Harlem Renaissance movement. During Hughes’ prominence in the 20’s, America was as prejudiced as ever and the African-American sense of pride and identity throughout the U.S. was at an all time low. Hughes took note of this and made it a common theme to put “the everyday black man” in most of his stories as well as using traditional “negro dialect” to better represent his African-American brethren. Also, at this time Hughes had major disagreements with members of the black middle class, such as W.E.B. DuBois for trying to assimilate and promote more european values and culture, whereas Hughes believed in holding fast to the traditions of the African-American people and avoid having their heritage be whitewashed by black intellectuals.
“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” –Edgar Allan Poe. Poetry is one of the world’s greatest wonders. It is a way to tell a story, raise awareness of a social or political issue, an expression of emotions, an outlet, and last but not least it is an art. Famous poet Langston Hughes uses his poetry as a musical art form to raise awareness of social injustices towards African-Americans during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Although many poets share similarities with one another, Hughes creatively crafted his poetry in a way that was only unique to him during the 1920’s. He implemented different techniques and styles in his poetry that not only helped him excel during the 1920’s, but has also kept him relative in modern times. Famous poems of his such as a “Dream Deferred,” and “I, Too, Sing America” are still being studied and discussed today. Due to the cultural and historical events occurring during the 1920’s Langston Hughes was able to implement unique writing characteristics such as such as irregular use of form, cultural and historical referenced themes and musical influences such as Jazz and the blues that is demonstrative of his writing style. Langston Hughes use of distinct characteristics such as irregular use of form, cultural and historical referenced themes and musical influences such as Jazz and the blues helped highlight the plights of African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance Era.
Both Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes were great writers but their attitudes towards their personal experience as an African American differed in many ways. These differences can be attributed to various reasons that range from gender to life experience but even though they had different perceptions regarding the African American experience, they both shared one common goal, racial equality through art. To accurately delve into the minds of the writers’ one must first consider authors background such as their childhood experience, education, as well their early adulthood to truly understand how it affected their writing in terms the similarities and differences of the voice and themes used with the works “How it Feels to be Colored Me” by Hurston and Hughes’ “The Negro Mother”. The importance of these factors directly correlate to how each author came to find their literary inspiration and voice that attributed to their works.
James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1, 1902, to James Nathaniel Hughes, a lawyer and businessman, and Carrie Mercer (Langston) Hughes, a teacher. The couple separated shortly thereafter. James Hughes was, by his son’s account, a cold man who hated blacks (and hated himself for being one), feeling that most of them deserved their ill fortune because of what he considered their ignorance and laziness. Langston’s youthful visits to him there, although sometimes for extended periods, were strained and painful. He attended Columbia University in 1921-22, and when he died he, left everything to three elderly women who had cared for him in his last illness, and Langston was not even mentioned in his will.
On the road of life, many obstacles come about that one must overcome to make themself feel complete. The poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes was written in 1922. Langston Hughes was a black writer, whose work started to be published in the 1920s. “Mother to Son,” which shows a black mother telling her son to stay hopeful despite all the hardships one may encounter in life. Here the author is passing a message to the public through this woman of wisdom.The mother tells her son that life has not always been easy for her, yet she is still carrying on. This poem “Mother to Son” has many poetry elements within the poem. The poem shows the message of staying hopeful through the obstacles one may encounter throughout life. Hughes uses metaphors,
During the 1920's and 30’s, America went through a period of astonishing artistic creativity, the majority of which was concentrated in one neighborhood of New York City, Harlem. The creators of this period of growth in the arts were African-American writers and other artists. Langston Hughes is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the period know as the Harlem Renaissance. With the use of blues and jazz Hughes managed to express a range of different themes all revolving around the Negro. He played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance, helping to create and express black culture. He also wrote of political views and ideas, racial inequality and his opinion on religion. I believe that Langston Hughes’ poetry helps to capture the era know as the Harlem Renaissance.
Langston Hughes wrote during a very critical time in American History, the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes wrote many poems, but most of his most captivating works centered around women and power that they hold. They also targeted light and darkness and strength. The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Mother to Son, both explain the importance of the woman, light and darkness and strength in the African-American community. They both go about it in different ways.
Langston Hughes was a large influence on the African-American population of America. Some of the ways he did this was how his poetry influenced Martin Luther King Jr. and the Harlem Renaissance. These caused the civil rights movement that resulted in African-Americans getting the rights that they deserved in the United States. Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was young and his grandmother raised him. She got him into literature and education; she was one of the most important influences on him. He moved around a lot when he was young, due to his parents divorce, but remained a good student and graduated high school. After this he traveled the world and worked in different places, all the things he saw in his travels influenced him. In 1924 he settled down in Harlem where he became one of the important figures in the Harlem Renaissance. He enjoyed listening to blues and jazz in clubs while he wrote his poetry. The music that he enjoyed greatly influenced the style and rhythm of his poetry. The poem “Dream Variations” by Hughes is about an average African-American who dreams of a world where African-Americans are not looked at or treated differently and they can rest peacefully. Yet in real life this was not so, black people and white people were not equal. And the world was not as forgiving and nice as in their dream. This poem is a good example of Hughes writing because it is typical of three things. The first is the common theme of the average life of an African-American and their struggles. Secondly, the style of his writing which is based on the rhythm of jazz and blues- he uses a lot of imagery and similes. Lastly, his influences which are his lonely childhood and growing up as an Afric...
In the short poem “Mother to Son,” written by Langston Hughes, the tales tells of a mother describing her life-s journey to her son. The mother describes her life of being filled with many obstacles and much difficulty. She puts her life story in terms, of a metaphorical wooden staircase and the obstacles she face along the way are symbolized by splinters, tacks, and broken boards in her life-s staircase. Yet, in this one-sided conversation to her son, she uses her story and her struggles to inspire him to keep moving forward and overcoming the obstacles on his own life-s staircase. The lesson she tries to convey to him, is to keep moving forward just as she did. Life is tough, and if she can do it and continue to do so, her son along with
The author of “Mother to Son”, Langston Hughes, displays the attitude of hopefulness in the poem to show that life will not be easy for the son, but he should never give up because the mother did not. The author uses literary devices like figurative language, imagery, and diction. By using these literary devices, Hughes creates a sympathetic mood in the poem in order to emotionally draw in the reader.
The mother describes all the different obstacles that can stand in the way along the path of life, but tells her son to continue to climb. “Mother to Son” has been referenced in speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama as pieces of human inspiration to continue moving forward even during the tough times (Miller, 425). Langston’s poem represents the relationship between a mother and her child to try to be a support system during difficult times to keep them fighting for more in their life. King and Obama used this same poem to speak to human nature and encourage the movement past difficult events in society (Miller, 425). Langston’s poem shows how it was relevant when it was written, but it is still relevant today since it pulls at who we are as
Langston Hughes is an American poet who made a huge impact during the Harlem Renaissance period because he mainly focused on themes about African Americans. In the 1920’s, Hughes promoted African American culture and heritage in his literature so that his writings would reach a wider audience. The poem “Harlem” is about how African America’s face prejudice which makes it impossible for them to achieve the American Dream. The poem “I, Too” is about how because of how African American want to be equal with the Whites. In both of these poems, Hughes makes an argument that the African American should be treated equally since people in America aren’t letting African Americans reach their full potential in achieving their dreams.
Langston Hughes was an African American author, poet, novelist, and playwright. His writings were known to explore the lives of African Americans who struggle with poverty and discrimination. One of his works entitled “Mother to Son”, was written and published in 1922. The writing selection was based off the theme of ‘When life gets hard; persevere,’ as a mother illustrates to her son the life long journey of struggles and conflicts that she has endured. The writer produced this poem at the age of 21, and in this particular poem, Hughes displays the symbol of a staircase which to represents life.