AP Portfolio Entry #3
Hughes, Langston. "Salvation." [The Big Sea, 1940.] The McGraw-Hill Reader: Issues across the Disciplines. Ed. Gilbert H. Muller. 11th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 642-643. Print. Question #18: What is the author’s purpose? Does s/he achieve this purpose? What three or four elements most significantly contribute to the success or failure of the passage?
Hughes’ purpose in writing salvation was to display that the pressure of adults has an enormous impact on a child’s life.
Hughes achieves his purpose through his use of change is syntax, polysyndeton, and irony. Every person has the natural desire to conform, but children especially feel the need to conform. Hughes’ story of his initiation into the church community emphasizes that it was almost a necessity for him to conform. He did this by showing the differentiation between the two generations: him and his grandmother. The adults pressured the children to accept Jesus, thinking that it would naturally happen, but they did not realize that the children would simply conform even without accepting Jesus. For example when Hughes states “I believed her” after a string of long sentences, the change in syntax mimics the simplicity of the childish mindset. Hughes also states “she said you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul”. The use of polysyndeton places equal emphasis on each thing his grandmother is telling him because he believes that each thing will actually happen. Hughes is reflecting on this experience with a bitter attitude because he realizes how naïve he was. The effect of pressure can also be seen when there are only two boys left on the bench, Langston and Westley. Westley states, “God damn! I’m tired o’ sitting here. Let’s go up and be saved.” Then he got up and was “saved”. This is highly ironic because: One, Westley is being blasphemous at a ceremony where he is supposed to be accepting God; and two, because it...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document