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Reoccurring Themes In The Work Of Langston Hughes

1787 words - 7 pages

Langston Hughes is an extremely successful and well known black writer who emerged from the Harlem Renaissance (“Langston Hughes” 792). He is recognized for his poetry and like many other writers from the Harlem Renaissance, lived most of his life outside of Harlem (“Langston Hughes” 792). His personal experiences and opinions inspire his writing intricately. Unlike other writers of his time, Hughes expresses his discontent with black oppression and focuses on the hardships of his people. Hughes’ heartfelt concern for his people’s struggle evokes the reader’s emotion. His appreciation for black music and culture is evident in his work as well. Langston Hughes is a complex poet whose profound works provide insight into all aspects of black life in America, including oppression, struggle, music and culture.
Hughes speaks about black oppression in a full range of representation. The blacks that Hughes focuses most of his writing on are the “most burdened and oppressed of the black underclass, and people who have the most reason to despair but show the least evidence of it” (Bloom, “Thematic Analysis of the ‘Weary Blues’” 14). He tells the story of their life and times to voice his displeasure with the oppression of blacks (“Langston Hughes” 792). His work opens the public’s eye about what it is like to be black in America (“Langston Hughes” 792). In Hughes’ short poem “Harlem,” the speaker of the poem questions how the African American dream of equal opportunity is being constantly deferred and suppressed by white society (Niemi 1). Hughes wants his work to illuminate the fact that blacks miss opportunities due to their oppression.
In addition, his writing touches upon the ugly raw side of black life. In the first volume of his autobiography, Big Sea, Hughes “attacks the romantic view of the Negro” (Cobb 44). In Big Sea, Hughes describes a scenario when he is speaking to a wealthy woman who expects him to be primitive. He explains, “I was only an American Negro—who had loved the surface of Africa—but I was not Africa. I was Chicago and Kansas City and Broadway and Harlem. I was not what she wanted me to be” (Hughes as quoted in Cobb 44). Hughes wants to make sure people are aware that the life and culture of African Americans differ drastically from the romantic view of the Negro in Africa. In his poem “Mother to Son,” Hughes provides the story of struggle, poverty overcame by hard work, and hope for a more dignified life for the entire African American people (Niemi 1). Hughes recognizes that despite being oppressed, the black community is strong enough to empower itself with determination to succeed. When discussing working-class life, Hughes consistently “asserts blacks as fully complex, fully human, and equals in the American democratic experiment” and does not play into the thought that blacks should be kept down (Sanders 107). Langston Hughes’ “concern for the lives and oppression of poor and working-class blacks” is apparent in most of...

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