Langston Hughes' "On the Road"
In Langston Hughes, "On the Road" the Sargeant is a homeless Black man that is desperate for food and shelter. In his desperation, Sargeant goes to the church to refuge, but there is no one at the Church to help him get refuge. Although Sargent is living in a time where the depression is in existence amongst all people, Black and White, he finds no one to help him. Sargent goes to the Church because the Church helps people. However, because Sargeant is Black and the Church is populated by a White congregation, he is rejected. In the story " One the Road", one of the people: A big black unemployed Negro holding onto our church... "The idea"! This represents that Sargent wants the benefits of the white society, but because of racism he was not allowed the opportunity to acquire the benefits. When Sargent was holding on to the Church, this represents his relentlessness and striving that he had to endure to live in a society in which discrimination and racism existed. He held on to the Church's doors because he was holding on to the American dream in which all people have the right to receive the same treatment regardless of color. Sargent knew he was no longer a slave, so when he was holding on to the Church's doors to be let in. He wanted to be fed and accepted into a society that did not want him.
In his persistence of wanting to be accepted, the Sargent caused the Church to collapse. Once the Church fell down, Christ came off the cross, and symbolically this represents freedom. "They have kept me nailed on a cross for nearly two thousand years(Hughes 619)." Victory invokes a feeling of freedom. Therefore, when the white converts kept Christ on the cross for two thousand years, they kept Christ bound, the blacks they were oppressing bound, and themselves bound. When they kept christ nailed on Calvary, they were denying that he ascended into heaven two thousand years ago. As the Church denied that Christ died, was buried and risen, the white congregation was denying that Sargeant was a free man with rights.
Hughes illustrates the reasons people do no like the Church today. Rev. Dorset, white or black, should have had compassion for Sargent. It is disappointing to see Rev. Dorset turned away Sargent, especially during the depression. A follower is a reflection of his/her leader and that is why everyone ignored and refused to help Sargeant. A Church has always been the place where anyone can be accepted. Christ says: "They have kept me nailed on the cross for nearly two thousand years(619)." This line symbolizes the stumbbling blocks that a congregation can cause to an individual. Although the congregational members have the power, their power was not enough to keep the Church together. As long as racism exists in a society, the oppressor and the oppressed will be bound and never free.
When the church fell down, symbolically, it was Sargeant who fell. And when the Sargent got up and started...