In the poem Ballad of the Landlord by Langston Hughes there is a hole on the roof of the house. The landlord has already been informed about it. The steps have been broken down. But when the landlord comes up, he does not fall down. The landlord says that the tenant has to pay him ten dollars. But before the landlord repairs the house, he will have got more than that.
Will the landlord get expulsion orders from the court to expel the tenant and throw his furniture in the street? But he talks about high moral standards. If the tenant lands his fist on him, he will not be able to say a word. Then the landlord will inform the police and get the man arrested, saying that the man is challenging the law and order. The police will follow and arrest him. He will be taken to the police station and kept into a small room in the jail. The next day there will be the headlines in paper: Man threatens landlord; Tenant had no money; Negro is sentenced 90 days’ imprisonment.
The poem is trying to show the extent of social injustice in America. The tenant is exploited by the landlord and the police and the court help landlord to exploit the tenant more. But the tenant gets help from nowhere. What he can do is to use his own force. This is a protest poem. It encourages the tenants to fight against the landlord. The landlord just takes the rent, but he does not repair the house. If he does something to protect himself he is arrested and imprisoned. The police, the court and the press don’t take the side of the tenant. The poem powerfully raises a strong voice against color discrimination in America. The landlords are Whites, so are the police and the judges. Even the presses do not write impartially. The papers are the mouthpiece of the Whites. By using the simple colloquial language of the Blacks, the poem conveys the deep feelings of the Negroes. This poem is a subtle charge against the racial discrimination in the United States of America. In the USA, ordinary events of...
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