Tales of Simple Essay

1057 Words Nov 2nd, 2011 5 Pages
Tales of Simple and the Symbolic Undertone

Langston Hughes is considered to be one of the most well known poets/writers in the modern era. One of his most notable works was a series of fictional short stories called Tales of Simple. In these tales, Hughes uses symbolism to express his feelings and views on African American history through the character Jesse B. Semple. In literary terms, the word “symbolism” is defined as being a person, object or event that suggests more than its literal meaning. In Langston Hughes’ “Tales of Simple”, the author uses the main character’s name, feet and view on a type of Jazz music to symbolize the life of an African American and the effect of slavery, discrimination and racism on blacks. One of the
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While this is more of a metaphor, the common symbolic feature is once again…Simple’s feet. Simple’s feet being physically worn down is not the final thing about his feet. Simple talks about how he can be summed up by the shoes he wears:” Can’t you tell by the shoes I wear-not pointed, not rocking-chair, not French-toed, not nothing but big, long, broad, and flat---that I been standing on these feet a long time and carry some heavy burdens?” (99). Hughes directly explains the symbolism of his shoes to illustrate once again the working nature of Simple and the average man he represents. Hughes uses one other prominent symbolic example to describe the life of an African American. The author showcases how the history of slavery and suffering has affected African Americans by Simple’s explanation of the origins of Be-Bop music: “From the police beating Negroes’ heads. Every time a cop hits a Negro with his billy club, that old club say, ‘BOP! BOP!...BE-BOP!...MOP!...BOP!’…That’s where Be-Bop came from, beaten right out of some Negro’s head into them horns and saxophones and piano keys that plays it.” (104-105)
The quote by Simple in the tale Bop displays how Simple views the origin of Be-Bop music, and how they are mildly misconstrued. The term “bop” is defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “jazz characterized

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