In “Salvation,” Langston Hughes says that adults shouldn’t pressure children with unrealistic expectations because it will backfire, using narration and description modes to prove his point.
Hughes narrates an autobiographical story about being a twelve year old, African-American boy, who is told about being saved and joins the rest of the children of the congregation to “see and hear Jesus.” He faces an external conflict between with the congregation of the church and his Auntie Reed. He sits in the front of the church and watches the children, one-by-one, get up and go to the altar, and he ends up being the last child sitting on the front row. The climax occurs when he finally gets up to be saved, even though he hears and feels nothing. He finally caves due to the pressure he feels by being the only one left, and is ashamed, not wanting to be by himself anymore. Hughes’ resolution occurs when he is lying in bed after the service, and faces the reality that has he lied to everyone, and had not seen Jesus. He now has lost his faith and goes on to say that he doesn’t believe in Jesus anymore because he didn’t come to help him.
The author tries to persuade the reader not to pressure children with unrealistic or false expectations, such as religion, because it is faith-based and there is no possibility of physically seeing or hearing Jesus. Hughes grabs the reader’s attention with his personal appeal that he, along with the congregation, wants to be saved and see Jesus because that is what he was raised to believe, but finds that the realization is the opposite.
Hughes’ literary aim is very powerful and evokes multiple emotions from the reader. The metaphorical line “bringing the lambs to the fold,” when talking about the children coming down to be saved makes me think of the language used in the Old South. The preacher sings a rhythmical song, “ninety and nine safe in the fold, but one was left out in the cold” when trying to get the children...