Richard Wright and Langston Hughes are the writers that were very concerned about the racial issues in the society of the United States of America. Both of the authors use their talents to address the problem of racial differences and the outcomes they cause. Hughes and Wright emphasize the equality of all people.
Richard Wright fought racism with the help of prose. His work called “Black Boy” tells a story of an African American person from the childhood to the adult life. The main character of “Black Boy” is called Richard. He struggles to understand the differences between people based on the color of their skin. There are several scenes in the story that show Richard’s indifference to people’s ethnicity. He naturally sees all people as equals, while the society lives according the other set of rules. Richard does not move away to let the white people through when standing at the store together with another black boy. He did not do this out of disrespect, he simply did not notice that the people coming up to them were white (Wright 1993).
Langston Hughes’ weapon against racism was poetry. He wrote works that were filled with emotions and contained heated appeals to start respecting each other and paying attention to values that are more important than the color of people’s skin. Hughes’ poem called “You and Your Whole Race” is written to point out that people waste too much time caring about unnecessary things instead of trying to solve global issues such as poverty. The poet states that ignorance has clouded people’s minds in times when they need to fight the “evil world” in order to be free (Hughes, 2014).
To my mind, poetry is more powerful means of addressing problems, but prose is more accessible and understandable for the readers, as it is a well known fact that many people do not succeed at comprehending poetic texts.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” written by T. S. Eliot is a poem designed as a stream of thoughts of a man that is trying to decide if he should or should not uncover his feelings to a woman, make a step forward and arrange a date. The main character of the poem is an emotional and indecisive man. He also is a pessimistic person, he does not believe in the best; he is focused on the negative outcome instead. Physically he is not a young man. This is proved by the lines saying “I grow old… I grow old” (120) and “the bald spot in the middle of my hair” (40). The major conflict of the poem is the narrator’s inability of making a clear decision and finding enough courage to take a step forward. It is possible that the narrator’s age is making him so indecisive and pessimistic. The fearful person is trying to understand if he should take a risk and if the consequences of that risk are worthy. The description of exhaustion, depression and lack of optimism are the patterns that make the poem modernistic. These are standard and the most common themes that are raised in modernistic works of the poets and writers of the First World War. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” demonstrates a torturous way of thinking of a depressed person, who desperately wants his life to change, but does not have enough faith or courage to try to make an effort and alter his life or at least his mindset.
In Richard Wright’s story called “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” the writer describes a story of a typical adolescent guy named Dave Saunders. The main character has all the standard ideas and behavioral patterns of a teenager desperately trying to become an adult as soon as possible.
Most of the young people have in their minds a certain image of an adult they want to be, this image includes specific traits that are necessary. These are the qualities that make the person an adult in the eyes of a teenager. These traits are individual for each adolescent boy or girl. For some kids a relationship is the quality that turns people into adults, so they start desperately seeking for love and partners. For others it could be money, authority, freedom of choice. Dave Saunders’ symbol of adulthood is a gun. Dave feels that weapon represents strength and power, the gun is the source of freedom and happiness for the young boy. He wants to feel meaningful and important and weapon is the only object that can give all of these pleasures to Dave.
Dave’s behavior and way of thinking are usual for a person of his age. Modern adolescents experience the same hunger for independence and authority. They look for the sources of these things in objects such as clothes, guns or drugs, but sooner or later all of them start to understand that the only thing that makes people adults is behaving and thinking like an adult. The ones that realize it soon stop being treated as children, the ones that do not end up running away from home looking for places where they could find for more sources of adulthood, just like Dave went “somewhere where he could be a man” (Wright n. d.).
Eliot, T. S. (2014). Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Web.
Hughes, L. (2014). You and Your Whole Race. Web.
Wright, R. (1993). Black Boy. New York City: Harper Collins.
Wright, R. (n. d.). The Man Who Was Almost a Man. Web.