Langston Hughes

.. the dream of freedom, with the white society being the character which is preventing the dream to happen. When analyzed, it becomes evident that this comes from the fact that during his times, the white people often kept the black people from succeeding financially, politically, and socially. “Awakening the spirit of the reader, he intended to spark hope into many of his people’s hearts” (Early 29). Being a poet of democracy, in one of his other poems, “The Theme for English B,” Hughes writes about how in reality there is really one kind: the humans. Hughes, of course, saw that black, just like the white people, had the potential in their lives to succeed, and the black, just like white people have folks that are sometimes a disgrace to the community.

By concluding all of this, he knew that deep inside we are all the same, and that is what really matters. Many times, “in his works Hughes talked about the racial issues” (Rampersad 1), just like in the poem “I Too, Sing America.” Seeing that the black man was often treated as although he was not human, Hughes described in this poem how the society treated the Negro at times. At the end of the poem, he wrote how one day the white people will realize that made a mistake, and from that day on they will recognize the blacks as an important part of the society. During Langston Hughes’ time, the most widely listened to music in the black and white community was jazz, and ironically the music was usually composed by black people. Being a fan of jazz himself, Hughes “borrowed extensively from blues and jazz in his work, and in doing so, set the foundations for a new tradition of black literary modernism influenced by the African American musical vernacular.” (Borshuk Online), and consequently, it must be said that it was well received by all critics.

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He made the poems sound slow, and relaxing, but at the same time meaningful. This was one of Hughes’ signature acts that he well used, and this can be vividly portrayed in the poem “As I Grew Older,” found in the collection of poems The Weary Blues. As I Grew Older By Langston Hughes It was a long time ago. I have almost forgotten my dream. But it was there then, In front of me, Bright like a sun – My dream.

And then the wall rose, Rose slowly, Slowly, Between me and my dream. Rose slowly, slowly, Dimming. Hiding. The light of my dream. Rose until it touched the sky – The wall. Shadow.

I am black. I lie down in the shadow. No longer the light of dream before me. Above me. Only the thick wall. Only the shadow.

My hands! My dark hands! Break through the wall! Find my dream! Help me to shatter this darkness, To smash this night. To break this shadow Into a thousand lights of sun, Into a thousand whirling dreams Of sun. “As I Grew Older,” a poem by Langston Hughes is very representative of Hughes’ works, because it incorporates several themes and specific distinctions throughout the entire poem. The first, and maybe the most distinguishable trait of Hughes’ works, is the “ever-present feeling of the problems caused by race issues” (Shirley 4). If one analyzes the poem to the fullest extent, it becomes evident that the first stanza represents the birth of a goal or a dream, just like a child has dreams of becoming a pilot or an astronaut. This, of course, is a positive dream that was in the reach of the speaker, but as it is illustrated later, it is clearly seen that it becomes farther and farther away from him.

In the second verse, it becomes conspicuous that there is an outside force, or in Hughes’ words ‘a wall,’ that is actually holding back the writer away from his dream. Since in the last line Hughes includes the words “I am black,” this ‘wall’ symbolizes the hardships of the black people and all the struggles that they have to overcome before they succeed. Hughes never mentions what this wall might be, but it can be assumed that it is the’white’ world surrounding him. Again, in relation to a black person’s life, this stanza represents a growing child who realizes that he can not reach his goals, because the society does not give the opportunity to the black people to become pilots or space explorers. The third stanza epitomizes the way many black people give up when something stands in the path leading to their dreams or goals.

In other words, with the line “I lie down in the shadow,” the author illustrates how certain individuals merely accept the fact that someone or something (in this case it is the white community) stands between them and their so distantly seeming dreams. This stanza symbolizes the early years of adulthood, when many things seem impossible, and so many people lose their hopes. In the last verse, the reader should notice the abrupt change and the sudden willingness to succeed. The reader should also understand that now the character of the poem is actually taking actions to overcome the obstacles of life, and not just hopelessly accepting the fact that he is being treated unfairly. It is clear that the character realizes that he himself can only contribute to his success, no matter who or what prevents him from doing so.

This represents the maturity of the child who once thought that there was nothing he could do about his hardships. Another specific distinction about Hughes works is the “usage of blues within the poems” (Smith 361). Usually, blues lyrics describe hardships and sufferings, and that is exactly what this poem does. Also, the repetition of certain words throughout the poem resembles the blues music, which is also based on the recurrence of specific key words. What impact one’s experiences and hardships of life can have on their works and further philosophies on the role of life, is nowhere better visible than in the works and the life of the great American poet Langston Hughes. Because Hughes chose to live in Harlem for the rest of his life, and because he readily accepted the role as the leader of the Young Negro Movement, it is clear that Hughes intended to write about the culture and the difficult times of the black community. In other words, this makes the reader realize that in fact Hughes wanted to present to the society these problems, and hopefully correct them in some ways. The influence of his grandmother who was a passionate abolitionist, along with influential black persona such as Booker T.

Washington, left an enormous effect on his literary works that he produced during his lifetime; furthermore, in his works it is almost impossible not to see the presence of the beliefs of a person who is fighting for a better life. The fact that Hughes lived during a time in which the society’s hatred for blacks was immense, and that he tried to ‘row upstream’ against the society’s flowing beliefs, makes the whole argument that Hughes’ works were influenced by his way of life much stronger. All these ideas and facts vividly draw a picture for the reader showing that, in fact, Langston Hughes’ life experiences affected the creation of his literary works.