Langston Hughes: Write, Fight, And Persevere

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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 splinters,

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.

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