A Lesson in Metaphors

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A Lesson in Metaphors

‘Salvation', by Langston Hughes is part of an autobiographical work written in 1940. The author narrates a story centering on a revival gathering that happened in his childhood. During the days leading up to the event, Hughes' aunt tells him repeatedly that he will be ‘saved', stressing that he will see a light and Jesus will come into his life. He attends the meeting but when Jesus fails to appear, he is forced by peer pressure to lie and go up and be ‘saved'. Hughes uses his story to illustrate how easy it is for children to misinterpret adults and subsequently become disillusioned. Adults sometimes forget that children communicate on a much more literal level than they do; their conversation is often sprinkled with metaphors that could have a very different connotation for a young person. For example a child might easily misunderstand the phrase ‘its raining cats and dogs' or interpret the words ‘Holy Ghost' as an apparition with hollow spaces. It is easy to see, therefore, that Hughes understood his aunt in a far more literal sense than she had intended. It is quite likely that he really expected Jesus to walk into the room and that there would be a flash of bright light. The anticipation of an event is extremely emotional for a young person. A child's reaction to the night before Christmas is a wonderful example of their animated expectation. The atmosphere in the church on this particular night was highly charismatic and the room was alive with anticipation. Hughes was thrilled at the prospect of seeing Jesus and the rousing congregation reinforced his feelings. As time passed the congregation became more and more animated, wailing for Hughes to come up and be saved. Hughes became more and more impatient and extremely agitated. At the same time he must have been very curious as to why all the others were going up to the altar. During childhood we begin to learn the meaning of integrity. Having...
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