Literary Elements In Langston Hughes’s “Cross”

634 words - 3 pages

The plain and colloquial language in Langston Hughes’s “Cross” such as “old man” (1, 3, 9), “ma” (10), and “gonna” (11) is appropriate to the speaker’s straight forward discourse about the challenges faced by a racially mixed young man . This language successfully portrays the speaker’s wise, yet simple perception of the difficulties he is facing as a biracial child born into slavery. This ordinary dialect effectively represents the characters and setting of this tragic poem. The speaker uses his vernacular to transport the audience to a place and time relevant to the subject of the poem.
Langston Hughes eloquently introduces three main characters to the audience in this brief yet striking poem. He first introduces a young, confused, and angry speaker to the audience. This young man is represented as “Being neither white nor black” (Hughes 12). The weight of this simple yet important statement could easily be missed by the casual reader. Hughes uses this statement to successfully demonstrate the confusion and anger felt by this biracial young man. The reader is next introduced to the characters responsible for the speaker’s turmoil and pain. The main culprit in this tragic poem is introduced when the speaker states, “My old man’s a white old man” (Hughes 1). This impersonal declaration implies that the young man does not have a close relationship with his father and that he resents him for being white. This “old man” is also represented as being rich as indicated by the statement, “My old man died in a fine big house” (Hughes 8). The speaker uses this plain statement to relay his lack of respect for his father and his resentment for his father’s wealthy life style. The next culprit is introduced to the audience when the speaker expresses, “And my old mother’s black” (Hughes 2). This simple statement indicates that the young man also despises his mother. However,...

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