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ChloeWytovak

Ms.Renner
APLiterature
6December2015
LangstonHughesInfluenceofTheHarlemRenaissance
TheHarlemRenaissance,amovementthattookplaceinHarlem,NewYorkduringthe
1920s,wasatimefulloflifeandexcitement,andithadanespeciallysignificanteffectonthe
literatureofthistime.LangstonHughesisoneofthemostwellknownpoetsoftheHarlem
Renaissance,andhisworkisknownforitshonestyandpassion,aswellastheinfluenceithadon
themovement.
Hugheslifeandbackgroundhadamajoreffectonthesubjectmatterhediscussedinhis
writings.Hestruggledasayouthandhadaninterestingupbringing.HetraveledtoAfricaata
youngageandlovedit,buthisheartbelongedintheUnitedStateswherehedreamedofwriting
abouturbanlife(Graham).HugheswasthefirstAfricanAmericantoearnalivingasawriter,
andhisgoalwastowritelifeasitwaslived(Zieger).
TheHarlemRenaissancewasamajortimeforAfricanAmericanstochasetheirdreams,
andhispoem,Dreams,isarepresentationoftheentiremovement.Thepoemitselfdiscusses
holdingontodreams,eventhoughdreamsarentphysical.Italsousessymbolismthroughoutthe
poem.Forexample,thelineForifdreamsdie,LifeisabrokenwingedbirdThatcannotfly,
comparesAfricanAmericansduringtheHarlemRenaissancetobirdswhosewingsmighthave
beenbrokenduetocrusheddreamsandracialprejudice.Thetoneiscomfortingyetdirectional,
whichcanbeseeninthelineswhereitsaysWhendreamsgoLifeisabarrenfieldFrozenwith

snowthisgivesofftheideathatifsomeonehasdreams,thentheywillalwayshavesomething
tobelievethemandmotivatethemthroughhardtimes.Thisrelatestothehopethatmany
AfricanAmericanskeptthroughtheirtrialsandtribulationsduringthistime.Thepoemisalso
freeverse,whichsymbolizesthefreedomthatdreamsgavehisancestorsandtheblackpeople
whowerepartoftheRenaissance(Henry).
Ontheotherhand,AuntSuesStoriestellsthestoryofawomanwhoenduredslavery
andthenpassesonthestorytoheryoungfamilymemberHughes,inaway,doesthesamething
bydiscussingthestrugglesthatAfricanAmericansenduredduringthepastandpresent.He
discusseswhatappearstobeAuntSuerealexperiences,whichleavesagreaterimpactbecause
theindividualswhowereinvolvedwiththeHarlemRenaissanceoftenhadancestorsthat
experiencedthesamething.ThepoemsaysHeknowsthatAuntSuenevergotherstoriesOut
ofanybookatall,ButthattheycameRightoutofherownlife,andthisissignificantbecause
shewasawitnesstotheseevents,andAfricanAmericandescendantsstillknowthestoriesand
havetodealwithracismandoppression(Glenn).Similarly,thelinesBlackslavesWorkingin
thehotsun,AndblackslavesWalkinginthedewynight,AndblackslavesSingingsorrowsongs
onthebanksofamightyriver,causestheaudiencetocompareandcontrastblackhistorytothe
experiencesofAfricanAmericanduringthetimethatAuntSuesStorieswaswrittenandadds
tothesombermood.
LangstonHughesisoneofthemostwellknownpoetsofthistime,andhisworkis
knownforitshonestyandpassion,aswellastheinfluenceithadonthemovement.Hughesis
seenasbeingsoinfluentialduringtheHarlemRenaissancebecausehewritesfromhisown

experiences,hewritesaboutpositivedreamsandhopes,andhediscussesimportanthistorical
topics,suchassuchasslavery.

WorksCited
Glenn,Jordan."RememberingtheAfricanAmericanPast."
CulturalStudies
25.6(2011):
84891.
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Graham,Shane."CulturalExchangeinaBlackAtlanticWeb:SouthAfricanLiterature,
LangstonHughes,andNegritude."
TwentiethCenturyLiterature
60.4(2014):481512.
Inspire.net
.Web.

Henry,Denise."LangstonHughes."
ScholasticNews
31.9(2008):1820.
Inspire.net
.Web.
Zieger,andGayPitman."LangstonHughes."
SalemPressBiographicalEncyclopedia
.N.p.:
n.p.,2014.
Inspire.net
.Web.16Nov.2015.