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Nick Adams On Langston Hughes Essay

1415 words - 6 pages

Painful, shocking, and segregated; these are several words that could be used to describe the life many African Americans had to live during the early twentieth century. Langston Hughes was a famous black poet of the time period and through his poetry, he portrayed the realities of life. Although some literary critics may feel that Hughes’s poetry presented an unattractive view of black life, his poetry simply portrayed the harsh reality of their lives. Three of Hughes’s poems stand out in their portrayal of black life. These poems are: Ku Klux, House In the World, and Children’s Rhymes. These poems delve into the world of fear, segregation, and a lost innocence of the black people. These ...view middle of the document...

The combination of his love of writing to escape pain and his sense of black pride caused Langston Hughes to dedicate himself to write about the harsh reality that was black life in the early twentieth century (Rampersad).
Langston Hughes was also influenced later in his life by the Harlem Renaissance. Being involved with the black cultural movement that was the Renaissance gave Hughes a stronger dedication to writing about black life. He influenced others working to promote black culture and they used his work to help their cause. Langston Hughes continued to write about black life until he died in 1967 (Rampersad). Although Hughes lived in poverty for most of his life, he was a successful writer and produced many loved pieces of literature (Dyson). He left a legacy as one of the greatest black writers of his time and enlightened the world of the struggles of black people (Rampersad). Langston Hughes died on May 22, 1967 in New York City due to difficulties caused by his Prostate cancer (Langston Hughes).
The first poem that Langston Hughes wrote that represented the difficult life of black Americans is called “Ku Klux.” This poem gives an insight on the abuse the Ku Klux Klan imposed upon the black people of America. Lines 1-4 from the poem state that “They took me out / To some lonesome place. / They said, "Do you believe / In the great white race?".” This line from the poem demonstrates the fear that the KKK had on the black people of America. A critic from Modern American Poetry stated that the the line “They took me out” can mean that the Klan members took the black man to a secluded area where they will murder him (Brinkman). The KKK had a huge impact on the people by making them live in fear of being “taken out.” This poem also demonstrates the racial segregation that occurred during the time period. The critic stated that this poem revisits the history of racial segregation of America. The poem is based on the concept that the black man is a “boy” and the Klan member is “mister.” The terms “boy” and “mister” relate back to the time when it was a slave and master relationship. Even though it is illegal to own slaves, the dialect was still used to suppress the black peoples of America (Brinkman). Another way the racial segregation is presented is in lines 17-20 which states “A klansman said, "N*gger, / Look me in the face --- / And tell me you believe in / The great white race." These lines demonstrate how black people were forced into believing that that were a lesser race by the KKK. The racial discrimination of the time period ran so deep, everyone believed that being black meant being inferior. Although some critics may feel that Langston Hughes presented a negative view of black life, he was simply telling the unfortunate experiences of their lives. He wrote of the fear that the black people had to endure, and in some cases, didn’t survive through.
Another one of Langston Hughes’s poems that shows the unattractive side of black...

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