“Merry-Go-Round” is a poem about a little colored child that goes to the carnival. The child wants to ride the merry-go-round, but has a problem finding the back. From where the child comes from, Jim Crow laws segregate the blacks from the whites. This poem has a lot of depth and meaning, although it sounds very simple. It also tells us the mindset of most blacks in the South in the days of segregation. I chose this poem because the boy’s innocence was touching and its deep meaning was very powerful.
In the beginning, the child asks, “Where is the Jim Crow section on this merry-go-round, mister, cause I want to ride?” in lines 1-3. Jim Crow laws are laws that segregate the blacks from the whites, so you can infer that the Jim Crow section is solely for the blacks. If you go to a carnival right now, colored children won’t be asking for the direction to the Jim Crow section. This points out that in ...view middle of the document...
The child points out the obvious that there is no back to a merry-go-round. This tells us that blacks were being treated very poorly although they were segregated. Wherever blacks and whites were segregated, the blacks always got the worse things. The kid ends by saying, “Where’s the horse for a kid that’s black?” in lines 12-13. This poem mocks the idea of segregation in a way because Hughes uses a merry-go-round that doesn’t have a back. This also in a way promotes equality for the blacks. This promotes equality because the colored kid and white kids have to sit together on the merry-go-round like how it should be. These lines tell us that the kid thinks he is inferior because he is black. You can also infer that the whites are superior because they always get better things than the blacks such as the seats on a bus. It’s very touching how the evil concept of racism can be so deeply ingrained in a little child of only 8 or 9. He thinks that since he is inferior, he needs to sit in the back.
This poem won’t seem very important when you are reading it to analyze it. I like how this poem is very suggestive, but doesn’t point out anything straightforwardly. Since the theme can slightly vary between different minds, we can always find new themes for this poem. I think the theme of this poem is that people should be together as children were on the merry-go-round. There should be no inferior or superior race, and everyone should be equal. I think it is very genius how Hughes chose a merry-go-round to promote equality. I think that this poem mocks the idea of segregation. This mocks segregation because an innocent colored boy is confused, trying to find the back. The merry-go-round doesn’t have a back so the kid can sit anywhere he pleases and can ignore the Jim Crow laws. Hughes then points out that there is no back and society should be like a merry-go-round. The merry-go-round is a symbol for an equal society. The horses are a symbol for each unique individual of the equal society. When the kid sits on a horse, the kid is now part of an equal society yet to come in the future many decades later.