Ethnic and Minority Literature
As I Grew I Older by Langston Hughes
The poem, “As Grew I Older” by Langston Hughes is based on the importance of dreams. The poem characterizes the inequality that existed between white Americans and the African-Americans. The wall is used as a metaphor in this poem to depict that many people and especially the Africans living in America had dreams but there were differences that barred them from living their dreams. This is evident from the poem where the speaker wrote, “Between me and my dream. Rose until it touched the sky–The wall”. The writer of the poem, Langston Hughes used wall indirectly to represent the obstacles that acted as a barrier to the Africans living in America in the achievement of their set goals.
The image that was created by Hughes of a black person fading into the shadow of wall was that of the consequences of persons lost dreams. Hughes in his poem was trying to pass a message to the reader that once a person’s potential is undermined it results into a worldwide loss. This is because if people do not achieve the goals that are set in future, it means that the person is not useful in the growth and development of a nation (Hughes, 1995). Inequality and racism was the major obstacle, which barred the Africans from achieving their dreams in life.
Children Rhymes by Langston Hughes
In his poem, “Children Rhymes”, Hughes uses a child in the narration of his story to give the reader an insight of his past life as a child. He used a child so that he could bring out the problems that he encountered in the achievement of his goals. It is illustrated in his poem where he says, “Lies written down for white folks ain’t for us a-tall”. He encountered so many problems for there were so many hindrances and especially inequality and racism that existed in America during his past life (Mikolyzk, 1990). The effect that the speaker achieved through the use of a child as a narrator of the poem gives the reader the image that the African-American children in America were in trouble for there was no way they could succeed in life. This is because there were obstacles in life such as racism and inequality, which hindered them from achieving their set goals.
A dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
Hughes in his poem, “A Dream Deferred” discusses on the negative effects that were caused by the inequality and racism. The speaker’s position is clear that any important goal that is delayed may have negative effects on the entire world. The title of the poem is an image representing the delay and people not being able to achieve their goals in life. The speaker uses many images in the poem to bring out a clear picture of what it is like to delay the achievement of a dream. He compares it to a raisin, which is left to dry up in sun. It is clear that a raisin, which is nutritious, loses its nutritional value once it is exposed to sun. After the raisin dries, it becomes useless the same way a delayed dream ends up being in future (Hughes, 2004). The speaker says, “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” The use of imagery makes the poem more appealing to the reader for they are able to get a clear meaning of the speaker’s message.
Merry Go Round by Langston Hughes
In his poem, Hughes passes the message on how segregation affected the young people in America. This is the reason as to why he used a small child in the poem who goes to ask if he could use the same merry go round that was being used by the white children .This shows the rights that were being deprived of the normal African child during that time. The Jim Crow laws stated that the Africa children had to use their own merry go round that was meant for the Africans. The child is looking for a back of a merry go round, which in real sense does not exist. The merry go round shows the rights being deprived of the African child. The non-existence of the back of the merry go round indicated that the black Americans were getting used to racism and had decided to continue living their lives (Edward, 2004). It was ridiculous that Jim Crow was illustrated as an activist who fought for peoples’ rights. In the poem, it is written that, “Down South on the train There’s a Jim Crow car”. This was after Langston stated that there was a Jim Crow section for the black Americans. This is so because as an activist, there was no way he could have supported racism by establishing his own merry go round section.
Negro speaks of rivers by Langston Hughes
Being an African-American who suffered the racism of the twentieth century in America, Hughes was exceptional in that he rose above them and felt love and compassion for all races. This is evident from his poem, “The Negro Speaks of River”. The river in the poem symbolizes the connection of human life from the past times to the present. The simile my heart has grown deep like rivers in the poem meant that the soul is the life force of the body and any person who recognizes his soul recognizes his identity (Rasche, 2008). From the poem, the speaker recognized his identity as a child not only the identity of his biological parents but a child of the universe. This is illustrated in the poem where the speaker says, “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”.
Night Funeral in Harlem by Langston Hughes
In the poem, “Night funeral in Harlem”, Hughes makes comments to illustrate the monetary affairs that accompany funerals. In the beginning of the poem, the speaker talks about cars in the funeral. In the poem, the speaker wrote that, “Where did they get Them two fine cars”? This shows that for a funeral to take place, people have to travel from their places of destination to the place where the funeral was to be. This results into a cost incurred on transport. There is a case where the girlfriend to the bereaved has to pay the preacher some amount of money for coordinating the funeral. The flowers that were brought by the folks to the funeral had to be purchased at a higher price (Bontemps, et al, 1980). In this poem, the speaker was trying to bring out the costs that accompany funeral services.
The tendency of repeating the sentence, Night funeral in Harlem gives the reader a clear idea on the topic under discussion. In the poem, at the end of each stanza, the speaker repeats the sentence, night in funeral home. This gives the reader an insight on what the speaker in trying to pass to the audience. The readers get to understand that the speaker is talking about a funeral. For instance, in the poem, the speaker ends it with the sentence, “Night funeral In Harlem”.
Bontemps, Wendell, Hughes, Langston & Nichols, Charles. Arna Bontemps-Langston Hughes Letters Belton, TX: Dodd, Mead, 1980. Print.
Edward Brunner. Cold War Poetry Hagerstown. MD: University of Illinois Press, 2004. Print.
Hughes, Langston. Montage of a Dream Deferred Holt. Seattle, WA: 1951. Print.
Hughes, Langston, Rampersad, Arnold, & Roessel, David. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Greenwood Press. Vintage Books, 1995. Print.
Mikolyzk, Thomas. Langston Hughes: A Bio-bibliography. Des Plaines, IL: Greenwood Press, 1990. Print.
Rasche, Rebecca. Transcendence in Langston Hughes’ “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”: A Short Analysis. Homburg, Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print.