In Langston Hughes’ essay “Salvation,” Langston talks about the first time he is going to be saved from sin. Langston is a young boy around the age of thirteen. He is going to church to see Jesus for the first time. In which case, he truly experiences religion for the first time in his life. Throughout this essay Langston uses many narrative techniques such as, imagery, metaphors, and irony to explain his interpretation of that one night when he did not see Jesus.
It was the night of the big revival, and Langston, a young boy going on the age of thirteen, was brought to his Aunt Reed’s church to see Jesus and be saved from sin. His aunt told him, “when you were saved from sin you saw a light, and something happened to you inside” (219). He believed her. When he was brought to church, his aunt directed him to the front row, where he sat calmly and patiently in the heat, waiting for the preacher to begin the service. The Preacher welcomed the “young lambs” (219) and started his sermon. Towards the end of his speech he invited the young children to the altar to be saved. At this point, Langston was confused because he was not seeing Jesus before him. All the young boys and girls sprang to their feet except Langston and another boy named Westley. They were the only two left on, what the parishioners of the church called, the “mourners’ bench” (218). Finally, Westley became very restless and decided that he was not going to sit on this bench anymore. Langston was left there all alone until
his aunt ran over to him and asked him why he was not going to Jesus. She knelt there and prayed for him. Langston sat there waiting for something to happen, but nothing! He truly wanted to see Jesus but he did not. Finally, he thought to himself and saw that nothing had happened to Westley for lying about not seeing Jesus. Langston then decides that he, too, will go to the altar and lie, hoping that nothing will happen to him for lying to God. Suddenly, loud cries of rejoice were heard throughout the church and everyone was pleased to see that “all the new young lambs were blessed in the name of God” (220). That night Langston cried because he did not understand why he did not see Jesus. His aunt had heard him and explained to his uncle, “the Holy Ghost had come into my life” (220). From that point on he did not believe there was a Jesus, since he d...
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...fighting his feelings about not seeing Jesus. He feels that he is lying to God and himself by getting up and being saved even though he cannot see Jesus. Even though the reader knows that he truly is being saved from sin. He is doing something good for himself. Therefore, we can see that he truly does not understand the meaning of God. He is a child on the verge of adulthood. He has every right to be confused and misinterpret religion because he is learning. Religion is metaphorical and imaginative; it is what you believe it to be.
Langston Hughes found himself in a world of misunderstanding. His confusion leads him to believe that there is no Jesus. This is part of the growing process. Learning from your own experience is the most important part of life. Conflict and struggle are also important aspects of life. They define each and every part of a human’s living day. Therefore, the narrative techniques used throughout this essay truly help the reader visualize what the author sees, feels, and hears.
Hughes, Langston. “Salvation.” Subjects and Strategies.
Ed. Paul Eschholz and Alfred Rosa.
8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999. 218-22.
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