Langston Hughes' Poetry: Analyzing Themes of Racism Essay

950 Words Mar 2nd, 2001 4 Pages
Langston Hughes

Throughout many of Langston Hughes' poetry, there seems to be a very strong theme of racism. Poems such as "Ballad of the Landlord", "I, Too", and "Dinner Guest: Me" are some good examples of that theme.
The "Ballad of the Landlord" addresses the issue of prejudice in the sense of race as well as class. The lines "My roof has sprung a leak. / Don't you 'member I told you about it/ Way last week?" (Hughes 2/4) show the reader that the speaker, the tenant, is of a much lower class than his landlord. It also shows that the landlord could care less of what condition his building is in as long as the money is still coming in. "Well, that's Ten Bucks more'n I'll pay you / Till you fix this house up new." (Hughes 11/12)
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In Langston Hughes' "I, Too", written in 1925, the speaker in the poem is a young black male. Through out this entire poem the speaker expresses great hope about his peoples' future. He seems to think that very soon, during his time, there would have been a drastic change in the way that his people were treated. "Tomorrow, / I'll be at the table" (Hughes 8/9), shows his confidence that his people would be treated as equals in a very short time period. In the last line of the poem "I, too, am America." (Hughes 18) we can almost see the speaker's face beaming with pride. Another one of Langston Hughes' poems, "Dinner Guest: Me", written in 1965, is almost a continuation of "I, Too". The speaker in "Dinner Guest: Me" seems to be the same one, except this time that pride that we saw in his face is gone. Now instead of being confident about "Tomorrow's" change, he sees that it is, and will take much longer than he had originally anticipated. The last two lines of the poem, "Solutions to the Problem, / Of course, wait." (Hughes 22/23), tell us that this man who was once so proud of who he was is now so brainwashed by white propaganda that he refers to himself as a "Problem." We can however see that there were some differences since "I, Too" but there should have been a lot more over the forty years between the poems. Maybe that's the reason that the speaker is much less confident now. He must have

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