Use of Fantasy in Langston Hughes's On the Road Essay

Use of Fantasy in Langston Hughes's On the Road Essay

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Use of Fantasy in Langston Hughes's On the Road


Langston Hughes's short story "On the Road" begins and ends realistically enough: his protagonist, Sargeant, enters a strange town one winter's night during the Depression and finds himself without shelter, as many did during this era. Hughes gives Sargeant the additional burden of being an African-American in the "white" part of town; therefore, he faces the perfectly plausible obstacles of shelters that "drew the color line" and racist police officers who beat and imprison him. But despite the realistic beginning and ending of the story, Hughes places an elaborate fantasy segment involving Sargeant talking to a stone Christ who has "broken off the cross" in the story's middle. Hughes uses this fantasy segment to condemn the hypocrisy of many so-called Christians.

That the town's "Christians" are hypocrites is established by Hughes before the fantasy sequence. Hughes foreshadows the Sargeant-Christ conversation by having the townspeople reacting in a very un-Christian, racist manner to Sargeant's desire to enter t...

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