Great Migration Langston Hughes Analysis

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After decades of persecution through sharecropping and Jim Crow laws, as well as agricultural misfortune in the American South, millions of African-Americans left the southern states in hopes for decent jobs and higher quality of life in the more urbanized, industrialized sections of the United States (“Great Migration”). All of the sudden, a whole new world of business, art, multiculturalism, intellectualism, and nightlife was in front of a people who had been held captive, both in the literal sense and the spiritual sense, by a culture that did not allow equal participation or recognition within society. The North to many African-Americans symbolized equality, freedom, and haven from the old racism of the South. Out of this new world came …show more content…
The white Southerner, according to Hughes, is just as afraid of African-Americans as they are of white Southerners, their fear manifesting as cruelty. In this way, Hughes depicts the oppressor as not only hateful, but small and pathetic, who cannot stop African-Americans from looking for prosperity anywhere else but in the South. And, throughout his career as a poet during the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes directs much of his poetry on persecution to either narratives that take place in the South or cathartic remembrances once North. One of those remembrances is from his poem “The Trumpet Player”. The poem repeats the opening line “The Negro/With the trumpet at his lips” before breaking into variations of the line in following stanzas, which evoke the repetition and variation of Jazz (114-15). The trumpeter, through his music, releases the “smoldering memory/Of slave ships/Blazed to the crack of whips/About his thighs” (114). His descriptions of the trumpeter and his music clash anguish with intense passion, culminating with the final …show more content…
Hughes was born in Joplin, Mississippi, and lived in Kansas for most of his life before moving to New York for university (Rampersad). He himself was a product of the Great Migration and his success as a writer during the Harlem Renaissance stands testament to the new role of the African-American as an intellectual peer of other Americans. Jean Toomer, on the other hand, came from an opposite background. Toomer was born in Washington, D.C., to a mixed race mother whose lineage traced back to Pickney Benton Stuart Pinchback, who served as “the first black lieutenant governor of Louisiana,” (166-167). As a biracial young man trying to understand who he was in the context of his identity, Jean Toomer wrote Cane with emphasis on separation. Not only are his stories and poems carefully curated in sections that portray different African-American lifestyles in the south and north, but he also made racial and societal differences clear within each character’s consciousness. Another major theme is desire, not just in the form of sexual desire, but the need for recognition and acceptance from others. Throughout Cane, Toomer uses desire as the marker of separation between different groups and mentalities. Desire caused even more fissuring between blacks and whites within the

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