Analysis of Langston Hughes' 'Why, You Reckon?'

Good Essays
Harlem Renaissance Works

Langston Hughes was an African-American writer in the 1920's. He was best known for his stories in the Harlem Renaissance about the Black Culture. Hughes emphasized the theme that “Black is Beautiful.” In Hughes' short story, “Why, You Reckon,” he writes through the main character, the narrator, a poor, 'hongry' Black. Hughes uses character and scene description, symbolism, themes, and dialogue to set his story up and make it more interesting and historical to the reader.
In “Why, You Reckon,” Hughes establishes a setting through direct characterization and word choice. In the beginning, the narrator says, “Depression times before the war plants opened up and money got to circulating again and that Second World War had busted out.” By saying this Hughes puts the setting in at night in Harlem right after the Great Depression and while WW2 was going on. The narrator and the other Black Man use slang that was spoken in their time period, which also sets the scene. Some of the slang use is “colored fellow” “jack” “speakeasies” “jane's” and “stung.” A description that implies to the reader about the theme is the furnace. The narrator describes the furnace room he says, “There wasn't much light back there, just the raw gas comin' out like a jet, kind of blue-like, blinkin' in the coal dust.”
Symbolism plays a huge part in this story. Some symbols that are used is nighttime, wealth, and rich possessions. The narrator says, “It were just midnight,” “night” is a symbol of dark behavior such as robbing and stripping a man. Rich possessions is a symbol for the narrator. He talked about the rich's stuff and seemed to be fascinated with it. “He [the white man] pulled out a wallet, and a gold watch, and a cigarette lighter, and he got a swell key ring and some other little things colored folks never use.” This shows the narrator wanting things that he can't have, and he doesn't think he can be happy without. Poverty is also a symbol that plays a

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    popular of these things would be money. We all think that getting money would make our lives a lot easier, less stressful, and the biggest misconception, happier. But, in the short story “Why, You Reckon?” Langston Hughes uses irony, dialogue and character development to show the audience that money can’t buy you happiness. In the beginning of this short story, Hughes uses amazing character development to introduce the narrator, who is also the main character. It starts off, “Well…

    • 519 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Alexa Floren English 11 Is wealth all it’s really cracked up to be? In Langston Hughes short story Why, you reckon? you see the trials and tributes of a young mans life in one night as he takes part in acts that are morally unsound in order to deal with poverty. There are many people that face issues with money everyday and families that can hardly feed themselves. Often people think that “The grass is always greener on the other side” but many times that is not the case. The author doesn’t…

    • 795 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Why are you applying

    • 389 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Why are you applying? I am studying health and social care level 3. I have chosen this course for many reasons. . My ambition from secondary school onwards has always been to become a practising nurse who makes a real and positive change to people’s lives. When I was in year 10 I always want to become a nurse because of my mother’s asthma problems. I spent a lot of time in hospital. When I saw the nurses helping people I was covet. My desire to do this course is because I have always shown a growing…

    • 389 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    If I told you that you were, on a daily basis, consuming food that could potentially give you serious health issues, would you still eat it? The human body is in fact, designed to sustain a vegetarian diet. Most of you are, on a daily basis eating meat, poultry or fish – which have also been linked to a large number of chronic diseases and cancers. Alongside this, animals are treated extraordinarily cruelly and inhumanely when it comes to satisfying us humans. This is wrong and needs to be fixed…

    • 731 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Why Is Smoking Bad For You?

    • 3345 Words
    • 16 Pages

    Why Is Smoking Bad For You? Smoking is responsible for several diseases, such as cancer, long-term (chronic) respiratory diseases, and heart disease, as well as premature death. Over 440,000 people in the USA and 100,000 in the UK die because of smoking each year. According the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), $92 billion are lost each year from lost productivity resulting from smoking-related deaths. Of the more than 2.4 million deaths in the USA annually, over 440,000 are…

    • 3345 Words
    • 16 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Why Should You Be Moral

    • 716 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Why should you be Moral? Why should we be moral? We should be moral, because it is a way of how to behave towards each other, with focusing on being mostly concerned with situations of humans living with other humans. Questions like how should we behave towards each other? What are the rules and how do we learn them, also why do we have to have them? Let’s say there were no laws. How would we treat strangers or people that we know? Would the society be safe to live in? Without laws, there would…

    • 716 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Why Were You Persecuted?

    • 342 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Why were you persecuted? Well, it all began with me sitting down with my family at the breakfast table munching on a piece of charred toast and guzzling down some milk, which was the very moment of when I heard the delicate sound of sirens coming from the east end of the street. My father’s face grew faint and my mother rapidly stood up and snatched my hand, as well as my brother’s. She then directed us towards the back of the house through a tiny break in the floor. Once we got to the hole, my…

    • 342 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Why You Should Say No

    • 672 Words
    • 2 Pages

    have spent about 4 million dollars on plastic surgeries. The “before and after” photos of her can be found online easily, so you can make your conclusions looking at the results of the numerous plastic surgeries she has undergone. Janice Dickinson, Michael Jackson, Courtney Love, and other famous personalities who had undergone plastic surgeries can also be a good example of why this kind of surgery should be abstained from. Plastic surgery does not solve the main problem of a person who decides to…

    • 672 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Clifford tells the story of a shipowner whose ship sank and drowned all aboard. Clifford things the shipowner is guilty of their deaths even though he sincerely and in all good conscience believed the ship was sea- worth. What do you think? Do you agree with Clifford? Why or why not? Answer: I think that Clifford is absolutely correct in the scenarios that he provided. Quickly, Clifford made it clear that the shipowner was fully aware that his ship had not been built well, and because of this the ship…

    • 704 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Why Is Milk Good for You

    • 977 Words
    • 4 Pages

    drinking milk c. To persuade students to actually drink 3 glasses of milk per day d. To inform classmates of ways to fulfill the 3 glasses of milk if drinking milk is a problem for them. Attention Step: Run through a list of common things mom tells you to do everyday to stay healthy. Ex: drinking 8 glasses of water, all your fruits and vegetables, brushing your teeth after every meal, drinking 3 glasses of milk per day. Ask how many follow each of these everyday. Need Step: A. Milk contains many…

    • 977 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays