The Salvation by Langston Hughes: Author's Journey with Religion

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In the mid-1700s, religion started in America. Americans did not want to be forced to practice a specific religion. Religious freedom has played a significant role in the United States and the remaining North America. However, America wasn’t always a stronghold of religious freedom. Langston Hughes himself wrote stories about historical African American Heritage. “Salvation”, by Langston Hughes, is known to be one of his best short stories because of the intimate experience he has with religion. Langston was persuaded to believe in his religion instead of learning it for himself. Also, he deceived his aunt because he deceived her about him seeing a light. Langston is a very confused and indignant person who is attempting to undermine the value of knowing Christ by pretending to have been saved. When one is seeking salvation, they should accept Jesus Christ for themselves and not at the mercy or wish of others. In addition, “Salvation” was based off a chapter in “The Big Sea, one of his autobiographies.

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In the short story, Langston and his aunt attended church for a revival where people were there to accept Jesus Christ. His Aunt Reed told him he should see a light, and something should happen to him on the inside. However, Langston was disappointed because he didn’t see a light, nor did he see Jesus. His aunt pleaded to him, but he still was confused about being saved. Langston being a young child, he didn’t quite understand what this meant. As referenced in the article “How Young Is Too Young to Talk to Your Kids about Religion?”, the author states when we wait too long, we risk losing their interest altogether; religious literacy becomes a chore for them and for us (Russell: How Young Is Too Young). This is why teaching your children about religious belief at an early age is important because it’s often hard for them to comprehend. In my own life experience, I often go to church on Sundays, but I don’t quite understand what the preacher is preaching about. More so, most bibles like the King James version is a very difficult read. Like the article suggest, being able to break down the understanding of religion by their ages, will help children get a better understanding as they grow and mature.

Another way the author suggests helping young children understand religion at a young age is by playing games, making it fun, and interactive. For instance, vacation bible school, children’s church, participating in Easter programs, and other church youth sponsored activities. Events/ activities such as these allow children to interact with other children their age while learning about religion. Some churches have a youth pastor that’s young in age. This helps children to be able to connect mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Aunt Reed took Langston to the alter for many reasons, a great life and a positive adulthood. In the article “Religious Childhood Linked to Healthier, Happier Adulthood, Study Finds”, children who pray and mediate at least daily during childhood were 16 percent more likely to report higher happiness in their 20s (Lardieri: Religious Childhood). However, even though he didn’t want to attend church, he figured it will benefit his well-being in the long run. Had Langston not lied, he wouldn’t have felt so bad at what he did. Also, in the short story, you can tell Langston’s Aunt is happy and emotional because knowing your religious belief will result in a healthier life. If you continue to pray every day, it allows God to forgive you an all your sins. For instance, if you are going through hardships like Langston, you can pray to Jesus allowing him to get you through your rough times. In my life experiences, if I am having a hard time at something I am trying to accomplish, I will pray to myself allowing God to help me through my accomplishments. While I am writing this paper, I am asking God to be on my side to aim for a high grade. If people continue to believe in God, throughout their life, they will witness the goodness of his word.

Langston’s Aunt feels as though teaching religious beliefs is the best way to teach children how to behave. According to the article “Should You Raise Your Kids Religious? Here's What the Science Says.”, children don’t want to go to church; they would much rather stay at home, but their parents seem to believe they are acting out. In 2001, it showed that religious belief acts as a shield against stress, negative effects, and depression among that population. From Langston’s point of view, he wasn’t really interested in going to church with his aunt but he did not want to disappoint her. Also, introducing children to religion, after all, is to give them a kind of road map to the art of being obedient (Timsit: Should You Raise Your Kids Reigious).

Since Langston is a younger child it may be hard for his Aunt to teach him about religion in the way that perhaps she learned. This may hold true for many families today. However, in today’s times, there are religious organizations that can provide a support system for children where they can share their experiences. In fact, allowing children to speak freely about their perspective on religion can allow for open communication between child and parent. However, a harmful thing about religious belief is a nonreligious child living in and religious home. From my perspective, my household is not harmful because I practice the same religion as my parents. Sometimes I also enjoy going to church to hear the preacher lecture and hear the choir sing church songs. On the other hand, parents are confronting their children or forcing them into religion, they must be careful because they may not be religious themselves, so they are living untruth lives. Parents should be teaching their children things they believe in because they want their child to grow up having faith in God. However, some believe that there is no difference between children who are raised as religious and children who have no religious belief. In my opinion, there is a difference between children who are raised religiously and children who are not because children who are will understand God more than a child who don’t know anything about their religious belief or who they should try to be more like.

Langston’s Aunt’s pastor was reading a scripture from the bible that the children did not understand. The New Living Translation is the best bible for young children and teenagers. The New Living Translation breaks down God’s word in a more understandable meaning. Also, for younger children there are bibles that explain with color, pictures, and animation. My mother bought me my first New Living Translation Bible when I was younger. I don’t understand the King James Version so while I am in church I use my mother’s New Living Translation Bible. The Bible also teach me God’s message and God’s plan. The verse Proverbs 22:6 from Tyndale Charitable Trust. “NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition.” Tyndale, 1 Oct. 2004, says direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it (Foundation: Tyndale Charitable Trust). The meaning behind “training up” is it is not promise to parents who raise their children properly but a warning to those who allow their children to grow up with no guidance.

Throughout the short story “Slavation”, Hughes uses figurative language to express one night when he didn’t see Jesus. “ I was scared from sin when I was going on thirteen. But not really saved” indicated that Hugues brings irony to the story because his statement doesn’t match the title and brings a confusion to the readers about what the story is really about. Personification is also used within the story. For instance, “And the whole building rocked with prayer and song” shows that the church is giving human characteristice such as the ability to move on beat. “ All moans and shouts and lonely cries and dive pictures of hell” Langston uses the reaction of people in hell to help imagine a picture of what is going on at the revival.

To summarize, Langston Hughes explains the first time he was saved from sin but didn’t actually feel Jesus. He went to revival with his Aunt Reed where the children were supposed to receive salvation. His Aunt told him that if he was saved, he would see a light, which symbolized Jesus. Langston sat there waiting to see a light. Most of the children got up and were saved except him and his friend Westley, who eventually got up because he was tired of sitting there not because he felt Jesus but because he was tired of waiting to be saved. After Westley got up Langston was the last child who hadn’t received salvation yet even though his aunt continued to pray for him. This made him feel bad, so he decided to get up and do the same as Westley, so he got up. That night he cried in shame. His aunt thought his tears came from the Holy Ghost coming into his life, but he was crying because he lied not only himself but also his aunt and the church. This experienced made Langston question if there was really a God. He felt that if there was a God, why hadn’t he come to save him.

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