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Deja Reynolds Ms.

Hampton American Literature October 9, 2012 Period 6 Harlem We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness(Declaration of Independence). In the 1920s, otherwise known as the Harlem Renaissance, it was said that America was not for the people but for white people. Harlem by Langston Hughes is a free verse poem in which he illustrates the oppression that African Americans faced during the Harlem Renaissance era. Harlem, is targeted at the black community of Harlem. This piece of literature sends a sense of abuse and abandonment to the audience as it reminds them of the segregation that the race faced. Recurring personification and metaphors were used to highlight the overall message. Hughes was communicating that African Americans were shunned and treated as if they were not of equal standards as the other citizens of Harlem. The authors use of personification and metaphors shows abandonment in the audience which helps relay Hughess message and the beliefs of the time period. Langston Hughes purposely uses literary devices to send frustration through the black community due to the abuse from white society. In the poem he states, Here on the edge of hell/Stands Harlem-(Lines 1-2). This personifies Harlem as something capable of standing and its said to be on the edge of hell or in other words in hell. This is also a metaphor because the excerpt is saying Harlem is hell. This illustrates how Hughes is trying to make blacks frustrated by saying that

Reynolds 2 their living situations are of such bad conditions just like hell. He goes on with saying that the man at the corner store is putting a new tax on essential items that are no longer affordable because they, (African Americans), cant get jobs. The tone of the poem changes as he uses repetition So we stand here/On the edge of hell/In Harlem(16-18). He says So we stand here to express that theyre waiting for a change. He talks about the old be patient that people have told him before. The be patient refers to others telling him that a change was soon to come and he should just ultimately wait until it did. This strikes frustration through the black community because they were most likely told to be patient as well. Hughes tries to make African Americans frustrated so that they would make a change and stand up to society, whom is depriving them. For example he says, ...sugars gone up another two cents/And bread one(9-10). This is frustrating to the black community because they can hardly make ends meet, yet the man at the corner store is raising prices. Hughes doesnt give a name for the man because hes inferring that its white society, thats trying to make blacks lives harder. Hughess intentions for this poem is to open peoples eyes on the fact that theyre being oppressed. He makes this clear in the following lines, ...look out on the world/And wonder/What were gonna do(19-21) which, again, is his intentions of finding out what were gonna do to change their situation. He hoped that by ending with those lines, it would linger in their heads and that they would make a change. Langston Hughess message that blacks need to stand up to the white society reflects the beliefs of the time period because during that time America was not for the people but for

white people. He was trying to get African Americans to stand up so that the negative beliefs of the time period would be changed. This helped change the world we live in today because Reynolds 3 now blacks have rights; African Americans are accepted throughout the world amongst different races and ethnicities.