English 11B Unit 1 Essay

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Saad Abdullah
English 11B
“Why, You Reckon?” Literary Analysis
In the short story “Why, You Reckon?,” Langston Hughes gives the narrator a unique character in which he is very respectful but easily persuaded. Judging from the story, one can come to a conclusion that the narrator is uneducated and very poor. It can also be seen that he is living on the streets while always searching for a way to survive. He is ready to do anything for some food and that’s why he accepts the offer when the other black guy asks him, “you wanna make a little jack”(253). In this poem, the narrators respectfulness and suasible character leads him into committing an evil act, but in the end he learns a great lesson from it.
At the beginning of the story, a colored fellow offers the narrator a robbery plan to get some money, but because of his manners he rejects the offer. Although he was very firm in his decision, his suasible character persuaded him to accept the offer after he was told that “These here rick folks comes up to Harlem spendin’ forty or fifty bucks in the nightclubs and speakeasies and don’t care nothin’ ‘bout you and me out here in the street,” (254). The main reason he accepted the offer was because he thought that if he went through with the robbery, he would get some food.
Now that the narrator had agreed to commit the crime, they went on to rob a young white man, Edward, while he was returning from his car. They took him down to their basement where the other black guy took everything from Edward. The narrator had such a well mannered personality that he didn’t even go in for the loot because he didn’t want to treat Edward in a

rough manner. While on the other hand, the other black guy was treating him like a slave. Like the time when the other black guy took the cigarettes from Edward. He asked him “What kind is these,” and Edward said that they were “Benson’s Hedges” (256). Then the other fellow said
“Well, I don’t like ‘em” with a frown on his face (256). This shows the difference in the personalities of the two black fellows. The narrator was treating Edward with ease while the other fellow was treating him in a harsh manner.
After the other fellow left with all the loot, the narrator and the white boy are alone in the basement. Then all of a sudden the white boy tells the narrator “Gee, this was exciting” (258).
This confused the