Author Background: Langston Hughes, born in February 1st, 1902, grew up in segregated America. His own ancestry was as mixed as that described in the poem. Both his great-grandmothers were enslaved African Americans and both his grandparents were white slave owners. Both of Hughes’ parents were of mixed race descent. Many of his family members were key figures in the elevation of blacks in society, and they impressed upon him the nobility of black people. Hughes had a rootless and often lonely upbringing, moving back and forth between family members’ homes. Hughes was a prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance and referred to it as the period when “the negro was in vogue”. Paraphrase: My father is white, and my mother is black. If I ever wished evil of my father I regret it now. If I ever wished evil of my black mother and and cursed her to hell, I apologize for wishing that, and now I wish all the best for her. My father died in a nice, expensive house. My mother died in a poor shack. I wonder how I am going to end up if I’m neither white nor black? Imagery: In this poem, the Hughes contrasts the colors black and white in order to illustrate the distinction between …show more content…
Especially being born in segregated America, his mixed identity was more confusing and difficult for him to come to terms with. In the poem, the narrator’s father is white while his mother is black; this reflects Hughes’ confusion and frustration towards his own muddled racial identity. Thus, in the second stanza, he describes his resentment towards both of them, which he now realizes is misplaced anger and seeks forgiveness. The last stanza describes the discrepancy between the narrator’s father’s superior status as a white man with a nice house and his mother’s inferior status as a black woman in a poor house, once again emphasizing Hughes’ difficulty in finding his place in
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To understand why someone writes the way they do, we must understand where they come from. Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in nineteen-oh-two. He grew up with his grandmother due to his parents being separated. Growing up with his grandmother, Hughes was told stories of how slavery should be ended and this filled him with a great deal of pride and respect for not only himself, but his race. (“Hughes”)
This poem is often compared to Walt Whitman’s I Hear America Singing because of the similarities of the two poems. In this poem, Hughes argues that the African American race is equal to whites. Hughes even declares that one day the African American race will be equal to whites. Hughes proclaims, “Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed-I, too, am America.” Hughes was very bold and daring when he wrote these lines in this poem. He is implying that the white people will regret what they have done to blacks. That they will be ashamed of how they treated them. Undoubtedly, this poem expresses Hughes cultural identity.
“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.
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.
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.
When Langston Hughes was given this assignment by his college professor, he used it at a self discovery tool. I think this poem is merely letting him dig into himself to find out who he really is, and what his role is in society.
Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B” is a rhetorical poem in which Hughes asks the question about his social and racial status in society. Growing up through the First World War and took part in the Civil Rights Era, Hughes experienced racial tensions while going to school at Columbia University in a time when higher education was still for the affluent and dominantly white. His poem is a reflection of his reaction from a teachers’ writing prompt which influenced him to write on his racial and social tensions which is enhanced by his structure, rhetorical questions, and his use of first person.
This work of literature begins with the narrator asserting that he also could “sing America,” signifying his love for America even though he is the “darker brother” who doesn’t have the same privileges as the lighter brothers. The first line indicates that the speaker is indeed patriotic to America even though he isn’t a lighter brother. The speaker continues to explain that because he is a darker brother, he must only eat in the kitchen and isn’t allowed to sit at the table. This suggests that the time period is during the time of racial segregation. Although he isn’t allowed to sit at the table or has to eat in the kitchen, the speaker doesn’t become gloomy, but instead becomes hopeful that change will come. He doesn’t criticize the lighter brothers, but rather is determined and positive that things will change soon. The speaker is hopeful that “tomorrow” he too will be seated at the table and won’t have to eat in the kitchen. He is optimistic in that others will see that he is also “beautiful” and will become ashamed. This poem is also formed with free verses, which signify that this poem is also attempting to symbolize the impression of freedom with the poem running freely. Hence it is clear that Hughes believes that racial equality is certain and has hope that it will come
Throughout this paper I will discuss ways in which the life of Langston Hughes influenced his writing style and use of symbolism in his poetry, including “Mother to Son” and “Cross.” Langston Hughes enjoys providing an abundance of “twoness” and or duality into his poems. While writing Hughes captures the art and culture of African Americans, race and segregation related issues. Also including, imagery, allusions, ambiguity, irony and a seperation of the speaker and poet. Through Langston's poems his includes symbolism to provide us with his personal thoughts and feelings about what him and his fellow African Americans have to go through just to become equal and free. Hughes did not only write poems, he also participated in several other
Both poems address the widespread societal issue of racism that is so prevalent in America. Hughes and Alexie seem to agree that judgment of others has been the disgrace of our nation. If the color of a man's skin did not have such a great value in our society maybe then America could be everyone's. Not just the rich white man's but the immigrants, the Africans, the Indians and the poor.
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” (Martin Luther King Jr., “I had a dream speech”). Racism, a strong weapon used against equality. Langston Hughes portrayed his view of societal racism in poetry and songs. Quite a strong soldier in the war against prejudice, his train of thought was precisely what society needs, yet fears. Racism should be distinguished, but is as strong as ever. The end of its reign would enhance the ability of minorities in terms of jobs, societal acceptance, and life in general. Langston Hughes communicates his theme of racism and overcoming it through his use of Symbolism, Tone, and Anthropomorphism.
In “Mother to Son,” Hughes uses a worn staircase as an extended metaphor to parallel its flaws to the struggles of African Americans. The poem begins with a mother speaking to her son about the pressures of reality and telling him not to succumb. She tells her son, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” (Mother to Son “MS” line 2) to portray that her life is far from perfect like the stair of a white person. She describes her life as having “tacks and splinters….with boards torn up” (Hughes lines 3-5). These defects symbolize the problems in her life whether they were caused by her race or gender.