Analysis Of Langston Hughes And All God's Chillen Had Wings

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Many of the creative works by African Americans promoted freedom through cultural unity.

“All God’s Chillen Had Wings” takes place on an island ruled by a cruel cotton-plantation owner. The master of the plantation overworks the African slaves to death and then quickly replaces them with more African slaves. The power dynamic changes when a young female slave, who just gave birth, is overworked almost to the point of death; as a result, she turns to the eldest slave there (an old man at least ninety years old) who holds a secret to unleashing the ancient ability for Africans to fly. By the end of the story, all of the African slaves are given the ability to fly due to the old man’s words, and they all flew far away from the plantation.
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The most recurring symbol in the Langston Hughes ' poem are the rivers. On a literal sense, rivers are used for transportation, resources, and they are often used to connect towns, cities, and countries. In addition, rivers either pour into a larger body of water located inland, or they pour into the ocean. Symbolically, rivers denote those of African descent. The rivers symbolize those of African descent because each river mentioned in the poem is connected to African and African American history. This is evident in the line “I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans [...]” (1304-05). The speaker of the poem claims to have heard the Mississippi “sing” during former President Lincoln’s visit to New Orleans; this personification of the river singing (an action that’s generally uplifting) during the visit of the President who was responsible for liberating African slaves, points to the strong possibility of the rivers representing those of African descent. Finally, the poem ends with the line “My soul has grown deep like the rivers” (1305). The symbol, “my soul” denotes a pan- African voice, while the rivers are still symbolic of those of African descent; thus, the last line in Hughes’ poem is a metaphor for how those of African descent are growing stronger and have become unified (1305). In sum, just as the …show more content…
How Hughes’ poem and the folktale execute this theme differs greatly. Langston Hughes’ poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, relies heavily on metaphors in addition to symbolism. Whereas the folktale, “All God’s Chillen Had Wings”, relies on imagery in addition to symbolism. Both pieces share the same overall theme, however “All God’s Chillen Had Wings” suggest that growth is not possible in the caribbean islands or the Americas, the slaves had to physically fly away from the current situation. While “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” suggests the possibility of growth no matter where those of African descent are

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