Essay PreviewMore ↓
Hughes's "On the Road" explores what happens when a powerless individual takes action on behalf of his conditions. The short story illustrates the desperation and consequent violent actions of one man's homeless plight on a snowy winter evening. "He stopped and stood on the sidewalk hunched over- hungry, sleepy, and cold- looking up and down." (Hughes 90) Here, Sargeant is without the basic necessities of life- shelter and food. Sargeant, hopeless and starving, wanders the lonesome streets and happens upon a church. However, the reverend of the church denies Sargeant access. Mullen explains further- "And in "On the Road" an unemployed black man, given a quick brush-off by a high-toned preacher, breaks into a church" (81) When the Reverend refuses to house him, Sargeant's desperation and powerlessness leads him to commit a rash action- tear down the church door to a street of on-lookers. Shortly after, Police come to take Sargeant away and put him behind bars, where he reminisces on his actions. Had Sargeant simply had the basic means of survival, food and shelter, he would not have had done out of desperation. In other words, Sageant's lack of security- food, shelter, and warmth, lead him to take violent actions in attempt to obtain it.
The short story "Gumption" underlines the rash actions that can be taken by powerless individuals. When the Depression Era rolls around, most are left without jobs, including old man Oyster and his son. Charlie Oyster is assigned road work under the pretense of there being no "office jobs here for negroes." (Hughes 98) Indignant, old man Oyster storms the WPA office in rage and demands for his son to receive a job befitting his qualifications. Instead of listening, the white man calls Oyster a communist. Hughes explains further- "Now, old man Oyster ain't never had no trouble of any kind in this town before, but when them cops started to put their hands on him and throw him out o' that office, he raised sand.
How to Cite this Page
"Langston Hughes- Theme Analysis." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Jul 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Langston Hughes 's stories deal of conditions befalling African Americans upholding in the Harlem Renaissance. His philosophy, dissimilar culture differences between policy and practice of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnicities relations for civil right moment. Hughes 's stories speak of the African-Americans as being overlooked by a biased society. Hughes 's poetry attempts to draw attention to the tragic history of African Americans, both in Africa and the United States, a viewpoints of his family’s diversity, for example, his white grandfather had staunchly insisted on marrying the black woman he loved because of the resistance against mixed relationships with white... [tags: African American, Race, Harlem Renaissance]
1335 words (3.8 pages)
- Langston Hughes was an African American poet and author who joined other black artists to break literary barriers during the civil rights movement. The poem entitled "Theme for English B" was written thirty years or so after the birth of the Harlem Renaissance, but still embodies why the Renaissance had originated in the first place. I believe this poem reflected on Hughes' life in general, but more importantly on the fight against the ignorance that created discrimination. James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1st, 1902 in the town of Joplin Missouri.... [tags: Poetry]
1789 words (5.1 pages)
- Langston Hughes, a remarkable and talented social activist, poet, and writer, displays the realistic internal struggles of African Americans through his writing. Hughes wrote during an era where social inequality weighed heavily on the American nation. Hughes was able to display the internal conflicts of frustrated African Americans, in regards to their goals and dreams, in his poem, “Harlem”. Utilizing poetic devices, Hughes is able to successfully display the emotional conflicts of the frustrations that African Americans faced in regards to their goals and dreams during the 1950’s.... [tags: Langston Hughes, African American]
994 words (2.8 pages)
- Langston Hughes Langston Hughes expresses his poems with the connection of jazz blues music and African Americans expressing themselves by dancing and following the beat to the music rhythm describing flashbacks of the past and comparing them to present day using imagery, figurative language describing and punctuation, which makes the reader think about African Americans in the past and how they are treated different today. Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1,1902. When he was a young child his parents divorced, and his father moved to Mexico.... [tags: Langston Hughes, African American, Jazz]
1299 words (3.7 pages)
- Langston Hughes expresses his poems with the connection of jazz blues music and African Americans expressing themselves by dancing and following the beat to the music rhythm describing flashbacks of the past and comparing them to present day using imagery, figurative language describing and punctuation, which makes the reader think about African Americans in the past and how they are treated different today. Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1,1902. When he was a young child his parents divorced, and his father moved to Mexico.... [tags: Langston Hughes, African American, Jazz]
1186 words (3.4 pages)
- When I first read Langston Hughes' poem "Theme for English B", I did not particularly like it. But after reading it a second time and discussing it in class, I came to appreciate the poem on several levels. The way Hughes describes the setting of Harlem/New York is brief, but evocative. He also gives us insight into the thoughts and emotions of the main character, the young "colored" student, and ends the piece with several thought provoking passages. In the first stanza we find the student, who is also the narrator, having gotten his homework assignment to write a paper, is returning home to Harlem.... [tags: American Literature Langston Hughes]
628 words (1.8 pages)
- An analysis of inconsistent views of integrity in America The inconsistent American view of integrity exposed in “We Wear the Mask” Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Theme for English B” Langston Hughes acknowledges the struggle between how society views African Americans and how the community views itself. Circumstances were difficult in America amongst the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century. An immense amount of changes were happening, and numerous people had a troublesome time dealing with them.... [tags: Black people, Race, African American, White people]
2531 words (7.2 pages)
- The great Langston Hughes is considered to be one of the greatest poets in his time. Many things made Hughes a praised poet today, but his most intriguing skill was his ability to interpret stories in a sophisticated way. Though the poem selection, Hughes used many obvious symbols, phrases, situations to encrypt the story of a Trumpet player life into a poem. Hughes really showed a free verse rhyming scheme throughout the poem. The poem holds a number of five stanzas with each stanza holding eight lines.... [tags: Poetry, Stanza, Langston Hughes, Trumpet]
731 words (2.1 pages)
- An Analysis of Poetry by Langston Hughes Theme for English B begins by Hughes describing the specific instructions for an assignment given to him by an instructor. I feel the understanding of that assignment to be one of the major clues to the meaning of this piece of poetry. "Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you- Then, it will be true." At my first glance of this poem I felt I had the idea Hughes was expressing down, but these instructions caught my eye.... [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]
827 words (2.4 pages)
- Langston Hughes Langston Hughes is regarded as one of the "most eloquent of American poets to have sung the wounds of political injustice." While some of his poetry can be classified as non-racial most of it can be categorized as literature of protest. Hughes background and personal beliefs were quite influential in his writing and it is reflected in his tremendous discontent for the "white man's world." Three of his works that that display this feeling and similar theme include "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "Porter," and "Refugee in America." Langston Hughes was born and educated in the South during what can be classified as "Jim Crow" years.... [tags: Papers]
800 words (2.3 pages)
"Why, You Reckon?" examines the desperation of details two poverty-stricken African-
Americans seeking food and shelter on a cold night. An exchange between the two men occurs- "Man, ain't you hungry? Didn't I see you down there at the charities today, not gettin' nothin'- like me?" (Hughes 66). The two African American protagonists agree and later show anger at the white people; "These here white folks come up to Harlem spendin' forty or fifty bucks and don't care nothin' 'bout you and me." (Hughes 66) One of the protagonists suggests to the other that they rob a white man for money, as they have nothing to lose. Once the white man is captured and robbed, he exclaims "Gee, this was exciting." (Hughes 70) The African American says that he would be happy if he had the wealth of a white man and later muses "What do you suppose is the matter with rich white folks? Why you reckon they ain't happy?" (Hughes 70) The two African- American men would be overjoyed if they simply had the means of necessity- food and shelter. However, they don't; thus their desperation is the sole cause for their violent crime.
Hughes' stories illustrate many of the problems that African Americans faced during the depression era, ranging from prejudice and discrete racism to a general air of hopelessness and despair. The inveterate theme of powerlessness leads to violence is epitomized by the actions of Sargeant in "On the Road", old man Oyster in "Gumption", and the robber in "Why, You Reckon?"
Hughes, Langston. "Gumption." Short Stories: Langston Hughes. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996. 95-100.
- - -. "On the Road." Short Stories: Langston Hughes. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996. 90-94.
- - -. "Why, You Reckon?" Short Stories: Langston Hughes. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996. 66-71.
Mullen, Edward J. Critical Essays on Langston Hughes. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1986.
Ostrom, Hans A. Langston Hughes: a Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1993.