Internal Conflict In Langston Hughes 'Mulatto'

Words: 1121
Pages: 5

Mulatto is a self-reflective play by Langston Hughes that explores themes such as racism, wedlock, interraciality, and filial bonds. Hughes achieves a multilayered complex work mainly through the conflicting characters of Robert, Sallie and Colonel Norwood; a biracial brother and sister, and a white slaveowner who fathers them both, respectively. Langston Hughes uses internal conflict and contrast in Colonel Norwood, Robert, and Sallie Mae as a way of illustrating and demonstrating the external conflict and attitudes in America in the 1930's. Primarily, he uses Robert's internal conflict as a way of exemplifying the conflicting ideals of that time period, what it means to be interracial in the 30's, and the differences in ideals in the South and the North. Secondarily, he demonstrates internal conflict through Colonel Norwood as a means of shedding light onto an emerging …show more content…
Bienvenu strengthens this, by stating that, "If the price to be paid for that opportunity is kowtowing [acting in an excessively subservient manner] at times to whites, the goal for Sallie is worth the seeming, yet actually disingenuous, self-effacement." (Bienvenu). Effectively, instead of making the system work for her, as Robert tries to do, she learns how to work the system to her advantage, thus receiving most of the things she desires.
Conclusively, Langston Hughes creates a masterpiece with a plethora themes by building upon the simplest of concepts: a boy in search of a father's love. Through the interweaving of Sallie, Robert, Colonel Norwood, love, hatred, assimilation, and racism he tells a story that is just as simple as it is complex. Although, Colonel Norwood denies parentage to Robert Norwood, Langston Hughes shows through the ironic means of their intertwined deaths, that one cannot run from