Black People and Great Migration Essay examples

Submitted By Meganstark21
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Langston Hughes was born in Joplin Missouri and raised by his grandmother in Lawrence Kansas, Hughes graduated high school and spent one year in college before setting off to experience the world. As a black man living in southern America in the late nineteenth century he witnessed the great migration in which half a million blacks left the south, many heading north. Slightly prior to the great migration the term ‘The new Negro’ appeared describing a growing sense of political awareness and search for empowerment amongst the black people, this along with the great migration to the North was known as the new Negro renaissance. Hughes drew on his experiences in regard to the ‘New Negro’ renaissance in much of his work, including ‘Bound No’th the Blues’. Hughes participated in the New negro renaissance by joining the African American expression of modernity. Although Hughes was not radically experimental in his form, like writer such as Pound and Eliot, there is something inherently modern about his text un that it couldn’t have been written before. Hughes adopts the American idiom in his poem using colloquial language such as ‘lawd’, The use of dialect was problematic in that it became associated with the minstrel tradition which involved whites dressing up as African Americans, thus the dialect became associated with stereotypes. Critic such as Johnson felt that dialect could only be used for humour and pathos reinforcing the idea of it creating stereotypes. Hughes, however felt that it had become instilled in African Americans that they must become white in order to succeed, he wanted to discard such a notion and so resisted American standardisation in his poems as a means of celebrating African American culture. Hughes seems to avoid techniques used in modernism such as impressionism and fragmentation. Furthermore unlike Eliot, Hughes doesn’t look to tradition to find order, it could be questioned, then, whether ‘Bound no’th the Blues’ fits with modernism. Despite in some senses being traditional and not being radically experimental in its technique, there is something very modern about Hughes’s poem. Hughes represents the oral tradition in his poem this clear through his use of repetition: ‘Walk...an’ walk...an’ walk. ‘This also links to the blues, by using the blues in poetry is experimental in its self; by using the blues Hughes celebrates African American culture, the blues links with the jazz age which fused white and African American culture together, through using the blues in his poetry Hughes is perhaps alluding to ideas of equality and the idea that brilliant things can be produced when cultures come together and work together in harmony. Furthermore whilst Hughes abandons Eliot’s notion of looking to past tradition as a means of finding order and coherence he uses dialect and the blues to create something out of the contemporary, making an alternative tradition that is not based around the canon. Hughes was certainly distinctly modern in that such poetry could not have been written before.

As well as reflecting the blues, the repetition in the poem connects with the idea of movement and journey, although it may be boring and monotonous he is moving towards something, this could certainly be an allusion to the great migration of 1910 when many of the African American community headed north for work. However it could also be metaphorical of the journey out of repression, Hughes is perhaps implying that it may be a slow, boring process, but eventually equality will come. Hughes create the sense that he doesn’t know what to expect, this is clear through the lack of rhyme scheme. When a poem has a clear rhyme scheme we know what sounds to expect on the coming lines where as when a poem fails to have a rhyme scheme we do not, Hughes is depicting how when the blacks were travelling north they didn’t quite know what to expect, furthermore they didn’t know what was coming…