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Langston Hughes was a human rights activist and a playwright who constantly led the revolution change against the segregation of the Negro in America. He is considered one of the most influential agitators for change in the social order in the history of activism in America. The poem highlights the plight of the Negro in the USA.
From the poem, Hughes outlines the virtue of resilience. Resilience refers to the quality of resuming to your original form irrespective of how much you are pressed with issues.
The racial segregation in America is a social phenomenon that no one would like to experience, it should elicit bad memories in any individual, but the persona simply says,” ….he laughs.”
He seems to be unaffected by the racial discrimination that he is being subjected to, he simply dismisses it, even though we all know that such occurrences would make an individual bulge and assume a combatant attitude.(Rhynes 62)
Conventionally, anyone who gets treated wrongfully in an environment will be conditioned to deeply loathe such environment.
A student battered in any high school will hate anything to do with high schools, despite the sub human treatment he gets from the fellow countrymen; he is still patriotic enough to proclaim his love for the same nation. In the last line, he claims authoritatively that “…I too am America.”
He loves his country despite the ill treatment he is invariantly subjected to.
Perhaps, this is the most outstanding value that Hughes wanted to portray in his poem. In my opinion, it forms the primary trait of the persona.
The author wanted to illuminate a ray of hope to the victims of racial segregation. He outlines this throughout the poem. When he says that he eats and grows strong, the value of hope is portrayed, he is not easily broken disheartened, he looks forward for change, and so he says, “…Tomorrow, i will be at the table.”
A hopeful person quotes the future, while a hopeless person drowns in disillusionment. (Rhynes 102) The persona however, looks forward for the brighter tomorrow. From the tone of the poem, it is very obvious that the future that he is waiting for will be much better than the present time. (Rhynes 11)
He argues that his tormentors “will see how beautiful I am.” Use of “will” infers to a future tense meaning the persona is still keeping hope alive of better tomorrow. (Rhynes 64)
The calmness he portrays in the poem is due to his hope for a free America. (Rhynes 66)
The persona is a very tolerant person. He is not belligerent at all, even though it is obvious that he is subjected to surly conditions that undermine human dignity, he remains friendly to them, no wonder he says that “I laugh.” He also waits patiently for the outcomes of the future when he will be stronger and even “more beautiful.”
Calmness and Tactfulness
One would expect opposition from the persona to counter the oppressors, but he avoided the confrontation and instead remained calm. (Rhynes 33) He says that when sent to the kitchen, “he ate well”, he didn’t confront anybody but planned by eating well and “growing strong.” Eventually, he says that he’ll no longer be told to “eat in the kitchen,”
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Rhynes, Martha E.I, too, sing America: the story of Langston Hughes. Greensboro, N.C.: Morgan Reynolds, 2002. Print.