Langston hughes’s poetry as an opposition to hell. James Mercer Langston Hughes is and american author who “was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, According to the website poets.org, “He is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He was well known for his “novels, short stories, and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing”. Langston Hughes “as a thinker about religion, tested its categorical boundaries to engage with Black church cultures and, more broadly, American religious institutions and Christian theology. He used religious language and themes such as God, mercy, redemption, resurrection, sin, prayer, purity and salvation as an expansive framework”. The use of these words in his poetry shows that he opposes hell. A vivid example of his work that opposes hell, is his poem “God”. He stated, “I am God/ Without one friend/ Alone in my purity”. The use of words such as God and purity signifies his opposition to hell in this poem. Just as we all know God is the creator of heaven and earth and we are to serve him in purity and dignity. Langston hughes clearly associates himself with heaven through the exemplary means of explaining the lack of responsibilities that transpire within humanity and also the beauty of life, therefore this clearly shows his opposition towards hell. In the poem “You and your whole race” by Langston Hughes, he opposes hell in a way where he explains lack of responsibilities which is the common challenge that the black community faces within themselves. The term ‘hell’ in the poem symbolizes the racial problems amongst the black community.
Most people don’t completely accept their failures and take it for what it is. Instead, they will rather put the blame on someone else. Hence, Langston Hughes stresses avoiding blaming others for one’s actions and urges taking complete ownership for one’s faults. With these faults, they shall embrace and invest in ways of bettering themselves according to Christian ideals. Alongside, these challenges become the ultimate reason why the blacks in the poem mostly blame whites for their failures. He states, “Look down upon the town in which you live/ And be ashamed/ Look down upon white folks/ And upon yourselves/ And be ashamed. In this case, he elaborates on how black individuals look down on their own figures and those around them. On top of that, he explains how they blame white individuals for the cause of these downfalls. Hughes however, explains how pointing the fingers on white people shouldn’t be their way of overcoming this failure. Instead, they should focus on finding ways of bettering their lives without being affected by who they blame. In relation to Hughes being an opponent of hell, scenarios in cases like that are one of the major problems our society faces today. In society today people call themselves christians and still engage in bad deeds. An example is the Roman catholic priests who sexually abuse young children according to New york times magazine, a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out; a victim tied up and whipped with leather straps by a priest; and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion. The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church for more than 15 years, ever since explosive allegations emerged out of Boston in 2002. This connects to hughes’s poetry because once again people are refusing to take responsibility for their actions. The same way blacks in the poem don’t take responsibilities of the hell they live in is the same way the catholic priest commit sins and don’t acknowledge the fact that their actions have eternal consequences, the hell that they’re going to end up in.
‘Life is Fine’ is another engrossing poem by Langston Hughes. This poem completely caught my attention because I feel as though it is a great example of the opposite of hell. In this case, Hughes tells a story about a man who is suffering and contemplating about suicide, but he is able to see the beauty in having a life. And this made a turn around towards his decisions. The poem appears to be about a man living a rough life, who has a near-death experience that makes him realize how valuable his life is to him. The subject has been through a lot in life, whose sorrows lead to depression. Which made him think about killing himself because he felt life is tiring but when he realized the beauty of life he changed his decision.This poem “life is fine” by Langston Hughes helped me understand the fact that whatever situation an individual is facing, committing suicide or hurting oneself won’t be the solution. But trusting in yourself, and knowing the reason for being alive can still help to shape one’s life. In relation to this, letting go of the past, building up a high self-esteem, blocking out every negativity and taking ownership over one’s mind can improve the struggles of the mind which can eliminate the thoughts of suicide. Hughes has helped individuals understand that he also feels the same way people feel and also considers giving up on life but that is not the solution to end struggles.The fact that langston hughes the author choose not to make the speaker kill himself shows that he aligns himself with heaven. In this poem, he opposes hell by encouraging his readers not to choose a bad decision in life rather we should fight against that bad decision that will end up bringing sorrow. Hughes through his poetry has made readers understand that we should all oppose hellish thoughts such as suicide, and lack of accountability. He also states in his poem, “So since I’m still here living, I guess I will live on”. Hence, this helped people to understand that we are all subjected to eternal life, and it is our right to choose between heaven and hell.
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