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The Poetry of Langston Hughes - Research Paper Example

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The writer of the paper "The Poetry of Langston Hughes" analyzes some of the themes that Langston Hughes picks up in his works. Hughes’ role in gaining the Black population of the United States of America a life of dignity should not be underestimated…
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The Poetry of Langston Hughes

Download file to see previous pages... Langston Hughes’ role in gaining the Black population of the United States of America a life of dignity should not be underestimated; at the same time, his work needs to be critiqued and looked upon analytically. Hughes led his early life in a dysfunctional family which his father was not a part of. This shaped many of the poetic concerns that he was to take up later in his life. It shaped the way he looked at life and also affected his financial status as in the absence of two earning members in the family, the economic situation was almost always not very good (Leach 2). Hughes was to remember these strained conditions later in life and was fortunate to receive patronage that would help his literary career to flourish. This paper shall look at some of the themes that he picks up in his works and locate them in certain poems of his. According to R. Braxton Miller, the very idea of detachment and a lack of political action that happens at the level of the grassroots were viewed with suspicion by Hughes (Miller 9). His idea of literature involved an active participation in the society from where the literature was coming and also the people that it was about. A poem like “Harlem” talks of the misery that affects people of the African American community at an everyday level. The lack of hope and a vision that could help them to aspire to anything higher than the squalor that they were used to needed to change, according to Hughes. One sees this in the opening question of the poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?” The deference that is the fate of the Black dream also points to the unavailability of the American Dream to the African American community that has to survive in conditions of squalor and poverty. Hughes warns against the consequences of such historical marginalization and foresees a future of violence as an after-effect of it. This can be seen in the ending of the poem, Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? (Hughes 1267) Hughes also wrote for an inclusive identity for the American citizen and this can be seen in the fact that what he wrote was for all sections of the American population. Tish Dace, in her essay, “On Langston Hughes: Pioneering Poet”, talks about how Hughes’ poetry “appeals to a broad spectrum of humanity...He wrote something for readers of every race, both genders, any age, any class or degree of education.” (35) This is dissimilar from the ideologies of separatism that were later expounded by many African American thinkers. One should not, however, think that Hughes advocated a move towards standardization and a homogenous identity that leaves people of the African American community without a distinct identity of their own. He looks at the Black artist as one who would be able to rise above the obstacles of wanting to not be Black. The fascination for white culture is something that he critiques in his essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”. He looks to lower class African Americans to furnish the material that would enable the consolidation of a Black identity. He says They furnish a wealth of colorful distinctive material for any artist because they still hold their individuality in the face of American standardizations. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself. (Hughes 1268) This, Hughes felt, would be possible only if the African American community felt a certain kind of a civilizational pride in itself. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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