History in Langston Hughes's 'Negro'

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

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The topic of Langston Hughes's 'Negro' deals with an extremely general description of the history of African Americans or blacks from the pre-1922 era until 1922. Hughes lets the reader know about historic experiences of blacks to show us the impact that blacks have had in past eras. He touches on past, historical events, like the days of 'Caesar' and the 'Belgians...in the Congo' (5 and 15). The murderous oppression that Hughes speaks about uncovered when he says, 'They lynch me still in Mississippi' (16). Hughes has made his poem more understandable by the use of such elements as setting and situation, speaker, tone and diction, images, and symbols.

The title, 'Negro', explains two items in one word: who is the subject and what the poem is about. Hughes identifies himself by saying, 'I am a Negro' (1 and 17). Then Hughes describes the works of the Negro by using the terms 'slave,' 'worker,' 'singer,' and 'victims' (4, 7, 10, and 14).

The first example is a situation that has taken place in Africa; the second in the United States. Finally, Hughes uses repetition of the first and last stanza to conclude his poem. To thoroughly understand the point that Hughes is making, one must take an enhanced inspection at certain elements that Hughes uses throughout the poem.

In 'Negro', Hughes gives the reader a compact visual exposé of the historical life of blacks. He does not tell the reader in detail about what has happened to blacks; therefore, Hughes allows these actual accounts to marinate in the mind of the reader. Instead of saying that he[Hughes] is a black man living in America, he simply says that 'I am a Negro' (1 and 17). He does not create a mysterious aura about blacks, but leaves that up to...