Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance
Langston Hughes is and will forever be a prolific play write but that did not come without struggle from his own people his strong ability to work well with others and his strong story telling skills that articulated black life. Langston Hughes was a spokesman at a time where very few black people had a voice very much not so in the public eye and the other black writers disliked Langston because they thought he had a stereotypical view of black life. Despite Heyward’s statement much of Hughes early work was roundly criticized by many black intellectuals for portraying what they thought to be an unattractive view of black life’’. Their argument was that the stereotypical view further portrayed into the light of what society already thought was typical view of a black person and black life.
Another element that shaped Hughes well known career was his ability work well with other writers. Hughes and Bontemps made important co throughout their edited collection African-American poetry in 1949 the two edited the poetry of the negro 1746-1949 a volume that documented the evolution of African-American poetry and showcased works by well-and lesser-known Harlem renaissance poets.’’
The third element that helped shaped Hughes career was his strong sense for short story writing which helped him breakdown doors for many critics some of his most short stories also depict real life. “Hughes reached many people through his popular fiction character Jesse b Semple shortened to simple. Simple is a poor man who lives in harlem a kind of comic no good, stereotype Hughes turned to advantage.’’ These stories where simple and his greatest strengths because they told the true stories if the forgotten people in a extremely and openly racist country at that time. Langston Hughes uses poetry to express black life through what seemed simplistic at first glance but way deeper when you take time and analyzed it. He told the truth about our culture. In this essay three ways I will show that Hughes drawed from his own life was the ways he wrote about black life and being black his criticism drove him forward probably the most and lastly his grandmother which was the most important women in his life.
The first story i chose to examine was Thank you, ma’am the story was about a boy who tried to steals a woman purse at first glance. But the story had a lesson in for the boy and every one else who read it which was Hughes can use a simplistic view and give the story a much deeper meaning. She also means to instill values or virtues into the boy roger who tried to rob her which are kindness, dignity, trust, forgiveness and choice. ‘’But you put yourself in contact with me said the women . If you think that contact is not going to last a while you got another thought coming. When I get through with you sir you are going to remember Mrs. Luella bates Washington jones. ‘’ To me Hughes wrote the character Ms. Washington as a grandma figure or mother really any strong black women. What I think Ms. Washington meant by she never would forget was that her was what she was going teach him. When she grabbed him and dragged him to the house it could’ve easily have been the police station. Even deeper into the story which shows more of Hughes trying to connect Ms. Washington to a mother character in general or someone who influenced him in his own life. Which is feeding him and making him clean up in the bathroom sink.
Then at the end is when roger gets the sense that he will never forget the women who clothed him bathed him and gave him ten dollars to buy the shoes he tried to rob her for. Which ties into one of my autobiographical elements with his short story writing which can be so simplistic but can go into several deeper levels. Which actually helped white critics get a new perspective and more realistic experience with black life and break down some but not all stereotypes. Ms. Washington is a example of Hughes grandmother a strong black woman who was fierce and was vibrant with life. The next piece of work I chose to by Hughes was mother to son a poem about his mother and her life saying it was rough ad difficult but she was determined not to quit and tells him not quit either. The poem is essentially simple story about black people living in 1922 back at the time when this poem was written. It captures the story of his mother and the things shes felt in life the poem also hints at at her struggles a unfair society those at a time with those who didn’t have fairer skin. It shows how strong she was as a woman and sets the tone of the poem with her struggles but her always persevering. Hughes word choice for this poem was superb to for example the way he uses metaphors to express the negative conations in her life. ‘’ Well son I’ll tell you life for me aint been no crystal stair It’s had tacks in it,
and splinters, and boards torn up and places with no carpet on the floor bare. ‘’ This also ties into imagery to because one could only imagine how a person would walk through and still go to work or just go through a whole day. This poem ties into the one of my three ways of hughes using a strong woman his poems by showing her perseverance and wisdom from her years that she lived life through its ups and downs. She refers to climbing how tough it was and how she kept climbing through the years. In the poem she describes a crystal stair which would mean to have gone through with some type of ease of course in this case she means money. I think hughes wrote this poem to express struggles of life. She also demands her son not to give up she says “ so boy don’ you turn your back don’t you sit down on the steps cause you find its kinder hard’’. As a reader and from personal experience in mine and pretty sure in Hughes life at the time we find that if we sit and wallow in our own misery and don’t climb the stair case of life then life will seem twice as hard and even more unbearable. Another way to view Hughes mother to son was that himself described to “illuminate the negro condition at that time period in america at that time. ‘’ He wrote this poem obviously to reflect the time period at the time the mother in the poem gives the son her experiences and her ups and downs. This poem was influenced by hughes grandmother who he lived with his most of his young life. The poems that hughes writes illuminates a lot of peoples life then and today and how they feel in their life dreary and bleak. This poem uses elements like or poetic elements such as extended metaphors symbolism to reveal the mothers in the poem hard life. The message in the poem also conveys to find the light you might have to go into the darkness.
It also conveys to be optimistic during hard times and not let them stop you from climbing the staircase of success. Writing poems like mother and son and using extended metaphors and imagery creates a vivid image and lets the reader paint their own picture of the woman and her hardships. Even though this poem does paint a sort of sad image of her life it paints her determination and hopes for his and his life.
To refer back to the crystal stair and the mother referring her life to and basically saying started from nothing and had no help. When you picture the crystal stair how Hughes uses you think of a step or way to climb up. When Hughes used the phrase the crystal stair it was clear he meant for the reader to understand that the mother in the poem was born into poverty. For example when hughes uses this line “ and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor paints a clear image of poverty. Shows the mother circumstances and the household she was raised on. In this poem you notices that the son never speaks I think this to emphasize the mothers life experience and to relate to African American life.