American Literature: Hughes, Hurston and Wharton Texts Analysis

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American Literature: Langston Hughes´"I ,too", ZORA NEALE HURSTON´s “The Gilded Six Bits” and EDITH WHARTON´s“Roman Fever”

Unit 5 :Exercises:Test yourself On Langston Hughes: “I,Too”

a)The artists of the Harlem Renaissance developed a sense of race pride and heritage in their search for newness of theme and form. They looked to a collective primitive past present still in linguistic or musical expressions. Hughes made of straightforwardness and simplicity an aesthetic tool and tried to emulate the voice and experience of the simple common African American (AA) folk as we can see in his poem. He was also constructing an imageof blackness that could change the Old Negro conception.

b)c) As the voice of the spokesman of an oppressed collectivity, or even as a single individual who fights for recognition, the tone of the poem reveals persistent optimism and conviction which manifests itself in the assurance that “Tomorrow” he will be also at the table being part of America too, revealing the social demand that the poem includes in the title, and in the first line: the word “too” . d)In Walt Whitman´s poem “ I hear America singing”, which scholars think that inspired Hughes´poem,all sorts of different Americans are portrayed: all of them singing. So Americans are a kind of chorus made up of different voices where everyone has an important part to sing, and he, as an AA, is part of that chorus,too. He has the same right as all others to sing the song of America.

e) The whole poem takes place in and around the home and the vast majority only happens in a single part of the home, the kitchen area and at the table, in the dining room. So the imagery is mainly domestic. These images of domesticity are also close to the idea of nourishment (“eating at the table”, “eat well”) and these stand as symbol of health and growing in the face of adversity. Even though today AAs are forced to “eat in the kitchen” they nurture themselves and persevere in their fight for freedom..Segregation is also made evident through the binary oppositions private/ public, I/ they, kitchen/dining room.

f) Against traditional prosodic patterns, Hughes adapts the lines of the poem to its quasi narrative mode. Following typical syncopation of black rhythms in “I,too” some of the lines are composed of one only one word that gains full significance and rhythmical importance due to isolation.Tomorrow, Then ,Besides are emphasized like jazz musicians usually emphasize weak beats and then, syncopates the poem´s rhythm.. Also repetitive structures are made use of in search of musicality.They reinforce the idea of determination and fight for equality.

g) The distinctive ehtnic speech that the Harlem Renaissance propiciated is present in its superficial simplicity which hides the complexity and depth of its theme.

h)The pronoun I serves as a kind of representative of all AA.It is almost as if he were speaking on behalf of his entire race and the history of that race. The pronoun they represent the white people and we know how they interrelate: the white people enslaved and then segregated the coloured people.Nevertheless, the poem pictures a day in which both, black and white will be equally treated with respect.

i)Hughes´s poem departs from the postulates of black leaders such as DU BOIS and LOCKE in the fact that he claimed for independence of standards and avoidance of conforming to white patterns, disregarding the desire to pour racial individuality into the mould of American standarization.

ON ZORA NEALE HURSTON: “The Gilded Six Bits”

a)The term “pastoral” refers to the traditional tale of collision of two different worlds: one of pastoral or rural simplicity and innocence and a more sophisticated and corrupted one.The “ picaresque” as present in the story, reminds of the folktale tradition of the intrusion of an amoral character that seeks a sexual encounter with a woman and deceives her as...
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