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On the road

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Hussam Tannera

on 13 May 2015

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Transcript of On the road

Langston Hughes

Full name: James Mercer Langston Hughes.
Born: (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)
was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist.
He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue", which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue".
On the road is a short story which deals with racism and religion. The story begins with the main character, Sargeant, stepping off of the train into the snowy night. This detail is a metaphor for the whiteness that continues to be a motif throughout the story. The snow is the dominant detail that Hughes uses to describe the environment that Sargeant steps into when he gets off the train. Sargeant does not even notice the swirling whiteness, despite the fact that it is making him cold and uncomfortable. However, Reverend Dorset notices the snow immediately. Regardless, he refuses to let Sargeant into his parsonage because of the man's dark skin and lack of employment.
Although the reverend is a religious man whose faith instructs him to look out for the needy, he promptly shuts Sargeant out of the parsonage. The reverend's inability to manifest any compassion for a black man reveals the hypocrisy of his religious beliefs as well as the pervasive racism of the 1930s. Like the snow, the reverend is cold and harsh.

Sargeant is relieved when he sees the church next door. In this story, Hughes frequently uses doors as symbols of separation between the black and white characters. To continue the metaphor, Sargeant keeps pushing the church door, but it is unyielding; Hughes uses words like "hardness," "stone," and "loftiness" to emphasize its inaccessibility. Therefore, Sargeant feels that his only option is to keep pulling at the church door until the entire edifice falls down. This event echoes the biblical story of Samson (whose power was God-given). The cruel white bystanders and cops are buried in the remains of the building, leaving Sargeant free to go on his way.
The church falling down is part of Sargeant’s own fantasy after his arrest. The conversation between Christ and Sargeant reveals that the white people keep Christ firmly involved in their prayers, but they do not live by his teachings, especially when it comes to their treatment of African Americans.
Both of them are happy because they are freed from the white power that keeps them imprisoned.
After that the tone of the story becomes sadder. Christ says that he has seen a lot, been around, and now, he just want to get out of there. Also, Sargeant is “tired, sweating and tired”. The hobo jungle represents freedom and anti-racism since it welcomes everyone to enjoy it.
In the next morning, we discover, as readers, that the events which ouccered after the fall of the church were merely dreams and hallucinations that took place inside Sargeant’s mind.
Sargeant realizes that he is stuck in a jail.
Even though it is physically impossible for Christ to descend from the crucifix and talk to Sargeant, the reader is willing to suspend reality in this context. Therefore, the reader subjectively feels the same disappointment as Sargeant does upon discovering that this fantasy is not real.
The reality is that the cops (who are white) are racists and powerful, and Sargeant (who is black) cannot escape.
Even though Sargeant discovers that his conversation with Christ was all in his head, he still has hope. And we can witness that his spirit is much more energetic at the end of the story as he threatens to tear the whole prison down. This is the message that our writer Hughes is trying to deliver for the black people which indicates that you have to remain hopeful despite of all the barriers you may face
On the Road
Hussam Tannera & Abedelrahem Warda
Jazz Poetry
Jazz poetry is poetry that "demonstrates jazz-like rhythm or the feel of improvisation".
The genre also includes poems written about jazz music, musicians, or the jazz milieu. During the 1920s, several poets began to eschew the conventions of rhythm and style; among these were Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and E. E. Cummings. The significance of the simultaneous evolution of poetry and jazz during the 1920s was apparent to many poets of the era, resulting in the merging of the two art forms into jazz poetry. Jazz poetry has long been something of an "outsider" art form that exists somewhere outside the mainstream, having been conceived in the 1920s by African-Americans, maintained in the 1950s by counterculture poets like those of the Beat generation, and adapted in modern times into hip-hop music and live poetry events known as poetry slams.
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that spanned the 1920s. During the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. The Movement also included the new African-American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by the Great Migration (African American), of which Harlem was the largest. The Harlem Renaissance was considered to be a rebirth of African American arts. Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, in addition, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the Harlem Renaissance.
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