Langston Hughes Theme

As we have examined some of the readings in Langston Hughes collection of short stories title The Ways of What Folks, we have come to find that this collection has a consistent theme throughout its stories. These stories offer commentary on race relations in the US in the 1920s and the 1930s. At this point in time, Black people were being oppressed and discriminated against by white people. However, white people were most black people’s only chance at receiving income. Otherwise explained, many black people had to work for white people to be able to provide for their families to be able to have food on their tables and clothes on their backs. Many people in today’s society tries to ignore black history and say that it is separate from American history. This is why we fail to see any representation of black people in school textbooks that should highlight all that black people have endured for centuries. Langston Hughes’ collection tells fictional stories that are based on true events and behaviors of people. This is one of many of his pieces that consists of his own personal theme of writing to and for black people.

While this theme is vitally important and prevalent in the telling of these stories, he is also making an effort to address the white people in highlighting the bad that they have done to black people as well as the ignorance that they have showed towards them in many events. These themes were vividly seen in the three stories that we have read so far from the novel. These stories include Cora Unashamed, Slave On A Block, and Passing. Each of these stories offer something different to the theme in which they are told from different perspectives. Cora Unashamed and Slave On A Block are each written from a slave or black oppressed perspective.

The black characters included in both of these stories were servants to white families. They needed the work to be able to provide for their families as stated earlier. Cora was treated more harshly by the family that she worked and was expected to aid to their every desire. She stayed in the kitchen most of the time. One might even say that she thought it best to stay in her place and not get ahead of herself by adding her opinion about a family matter. This story was divided into three parts and each part she progressed in proceeding to speak and stand up for herself. The death of one of the children in the family, whom she had took a liking to and vice versa, caused her great emotional distress. She was upset that the family didn’t tell the truth about how she died which led to Cora being rebellious at the funeral. This of course cost her her job. This story incorporates Hughes’ theme in which it calls for action of black people to stand up against white people in any situation. It is also meant for while people to take accountability for their actions.



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