"Cross" by Langston Hughes

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, Black people, White people Pages: 2 (773 words) Published: June 18, 2013
“Cross” by Langston Hughes
“I wonder where I’m gonna die, / Being neither white nor black?” (11-12) These are the last two lines of “Cross” a poem by Langston Hughes that describes the experience of a mixed-race person. The poem is written in stanzas with a rhyme scheme of ABCB. The speaker expresses the frustration and grief that a half-black and half-white person has and the struggles to accept and understand their ethnic identity, offering stereotype in a world where black people and white people are considered polar opposites.

In the opening section of the poem, the speaker introduces his or her parents. The father is white old man and the mother is a black old woman. The speaker uses “white” (1) to refer to the father. “White” is a term that means having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. The speaker refers to the father as white because he is of a light skin color and rich. Also, the speaker uses “black” (2) to refer to the mother. “Black” is a term that means having origins in any of the black (sub-Saharan) racial groups of Africa. The speaker refers to the mother as black because she is of a dark skin color and poor. The speaker describes his or her parents with anger and with a strong tone. The speaker’s parents are of different race and colors, which sets up a tension in the poem between two extremes.

In the middle section of the poem, the speaker lets the reader know that he or she has cursed his or her parents. The speaker, then, regrets having cursed them. “Curse”(4-5) means to use profanely insolent language. The speaker cursed his or her parents with anger because he is mad of his parents for passing on to him an amalgam of genes. The speaker uses “hell” (6), which is a world where the dead continue to exist. The speaker got to a point in which he could not handle the bitterness inside and continues cursing his or her parents, wishing them to go to hell. The speaker used an angry tone when...

Cited: Hughes, Langston. “Cross.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 1142. Print.
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