ANSWER TO THE QUESTION
As a form of art, literature is not just meant to entertain its audience, it is also meant to spur positive moral attributes into the society. Writers ought to present the beliefs, dreams, and values of the community to inspire acts of altruism in their readers. Literature reflects life in the society by outlining the role of every individual. Authors strive to go beyond scripting their imaginations, they offer an in-depth view of the dynamics that govern the society by portraying the psychological, emotional, and social perception of the characters.
Literature offers readers vantage points to view the truths about human character that are often ignored. Besides the beauty of the written word, literature enhances the understanding of the society through individuality and encourages progress. Consequently, it can aid in the analysis of the issues that surround us. Eventually, art will emerge as a powerful and effective tool for provoking individualism. Langston Hughes employed a grey yet positive tone in his poems. His novel form of jazz poetry marked the Harlem Renaissance.
Hughes’ poem Mother to Son motivates readers to never quit. In the poem, the mother urges her son not to give up by comparing her life to a flight of stairs, she says “Well, son, I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up.” The author utilizes an extended metaphor to detail the woman’s life by gradually relating one allegory to another. The woman says that her crystal stair has had torn boards, splinters, and tacks on it, which is a pointer to the hard life she has been going through.
The poem does not detail any achievements that the woman has had, it only retracts from its bleak message by reinforcing the son with a positive outlook of the future. The woman talks about her “crystal” staircase to allude to the life she had hoped for. However, it presented her with “tacks” and “splinters” which may be construed to mean the pain she has undergone, “boards torn up” and “places with no carpet on the floor” refers to how she has lacked due to her poverty. Hughes portrays motherhood as a balance between the private and public realm, poetry, and vernacular (Kutzinski 285).
In As I Grew Older, Hughes talks about strife and empowerment. He reveals a past dream that has come back to him. The main message in the poem is the struggle that black people have to endure as they are marginalized by the society. He writes, “in front of me, bright like a sun—My dream,” this depicts the enthusiasm that black people exhibit in childhood before the reality of discrimination hits them. He owns the vision by referring to it as “My Dream” to differentiate it from those of individuals from other races. He then describes how racism has engulfed his world by writing, “And then a wall rose, rose slowly, slowly, between me and my dream.” Hughes uses the color black to describe the drab situation of the black community when he writes, “my black hands” (Miller 58). The author then states, “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.”
Hughes believes that African-Americans can triumph over their tribulations through a concerted effort. He believes that his “hands” can break the wall and release him from the bondage of darkness. The writer’s apathy towards the situation that plagues black people is evident in the middle of the poem. However, he offers a shimmer of hope by believing in his ability to break through the wall by using his hands. By tackling the hindrance, Hughes gives a sense of purpose to others in his situation.
Langston Hughes’ As I Grew Older and Mother to Son both have a grim outlook of the social problems that plague the society like poverty and racial discrimination. The staircase can be interpreted to denote a racial quest (Miller 39). In the poem Mother to Son, the poet employs a gloomy tone from the beginning and only interrupts it towards the end with the mother urging her son to never give up in life. On the other hand, As I Grew Olderbegins with a positive outlook where the narrator remembers a promising dream he had had in the past. The author is reminded of this dream by the societal challenges he faces, and it prompts it to regard himself in a different light. The dream evokes memories in the writer and he vows to conquer his perceived shortcomings. Langston Hughes characteristically begins his poems with gloom and ends them with a warm impetus. He identifies the problem and then finds a purpose and a motivation. Both poems have an affirmative tone to give credence to the benefits of self-actualization in the midst of turmoil. Hughes effectively uses styles like mood, syntax, and allusions to pass his message in the two poems.
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