The Importance Of African American Life And Literature In The 20th Century

1637 words - 7 pages

1McNultyLauren McNultyProfessor Amritjit SinghEnglish 33903 February 2014The Importance of African American Life and Literature in the 20th CenturyRacism and segregation were a huge part of American history. African American authors and poets became famous after writing about their experiences, their friends experiences, and their families experiences during the 20th century. Authors such as Langston Hughes and Richard Wright became extremely famous and well known for their stories about American life in America during the 20th century. Understanding issues regarding race and exclusion are relevant to understanding American life and literature in the 20th century.Hughes' poems capture life as an African American man in the 20th century. His poems tell stories that give the raw details of being an African American man. His most raw poem, "Ballad of the Landlord" shows just how disrespected and poorly treated African Americans were during that time. Hughes tells the story of a black tenant who is trying to get his white landlord to fix the problems he is having in his apartment. The speaker of Hughes' poem says,Landlord, landlord,My roof has sprung a leak.Don't you 'member I told you about itWay last week?Landlord, landlord,These steps is broken down.When you come up yourselfIt's a wonder you don't fall down.The landlord is clearly ignoring his tenant's complaints about his apartment because he is black, forcing the tenant to live in poor conditions. The tenant gets very frustrated with his landlord when the landlord makes it clear he's not going to fix the problems. The tenant says,Um-huh! You talking high and mighty.Talk on-till you get through.You ain't gonna be able to say a wordIf I land my fist on you.Even though the tenant never touches the landlord, the landlord gets the police involved,Headlines in press:MAN THREATENS LANDLORDTENANT HELD NO BAILJUDGE GIVES NEGRO 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL.Ironically, the tenant is thrown in jail for doing nothing wrong. Hughes' purpose of writing this poem is to show people how African Americans were treated so unfairly and poorly. The colloquial language Hughes uses to portray the black tenant makes the poem stronger because it has more feeling. Undoubtedly the tenant did nothing wrong. This poem shows the social injustice that went on in the United States in the 20th century. Hughes shows how easy it was for white people and our government to exploit African Americans. This poem makes it easy for readers to see how poorly blacks were treated and how superior whites were.One of Hughes' less raw poems is "Theme for English B." The speaker starts out talking about his life and his struggles as the only colored person in his class. He lists things about himself that set him apart from his classmates and even his teacher. As he continues writing he seems to realize that he is not all that different from white people after all. He says,Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.I like to work, read, learn,...

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