What is racism? In “On the Road” by Langston Hughes racism is characterized in an unemployed African American. The African American depicted in this story is known as Sargeant. Sargeant is a character that Langston Hughes had little relativity to as being homeless as well as in search for food, but he undoubtedly identified with in culture. Langston Hughes childhood, heritage, and involvement in the African American community led him to create a strong willed character. Born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902, James Mercer Langston Hughes childhood was not one that would be noted in a Hallmark card. Hughes like many other African Americans had drawbacks. His mother, Caroline Mercer Langston and father, James Nathaniel Hughes divorced only a few years after Langston’s birth leaving Langston to live in Lawrence, Kansas with his grandmother Mary Langston. Mary of African, Native American, English, and French decent was very politically active causing her experiences to bring him racial pride. A short time thereafter the death of his grandmother, he began to live in Lincoln, Illinois with his mother Caroline. Langston’s childhood effectuated his ideas leading to what became an influence in the role Sargeant plays. When Hughes was elected class poet in his Illinois elementary school, he said “I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kid in class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry.” Hughes believed his teacher wanted a Negro, because of the stereotype that all Negroes have rhythm. In “On the Road” Sergeant is also a victim of stereotype. When Sergeant goes to an “All White Church” he doesn’t see color, he see’s a place to release his sorrows, and fulfill his need for food and shelter. Instead, he encounters a door opened by a reverend who see’s “a bum on the road of life, who’s obviously unemployed.” Although in actuality Sargent was an average man during the depression going through a burdensome time. He...
References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langston_Hughes http://www.stanford.edu/group/SHR/5-2/stoval.html On the Road by Langston Hughes
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