Reaction Paper

Reaction Paper—Nonfiction
W. Shernee Tousant
June 4, 2015
Daniel Benson

Reaction Paper—Nonfiction
Spanning the 1920’s, a new movement began in Harlem, New York known as the Harlem Renaissance. During this phase in American history, African-American art, culture, and social expression flourished in Harlem. Many new black writers emerged such as Langston Hughes, who was a poet, novelist, playwright and short story writer. The following paper analyzes an autobiographical, nonfiction-essay titled “Salvation,” written by Langston Hughes and first published in 1940. Here includes a summary of the strategies used to create this literary work of art and a few observations noted regarding the intended purpose of the work and its theme. The purpose is to shed light upon the process of creating such art and to increase the readers understanding of it.  
“Salvation,” is a nostalgic essay and tells a story about the hopes and frustrations Hughes felt with the subject of religion as a 12-year-old boy. The central theme of the essay deals with expectation and disappointment. The writer is providing his commentary on the subject of religion and salvation. Hughes tells the story of how he was offered the chance “to be saved,” in church, but in the end he begins to question the very existence of God. Hughes expected to “be saved” and to “see a light,” but the last line of the essay reveals he was later disappointed because he “hadn’t seen Jesus.”
In the essay, Hughes uses narration, diction, irony, and rhythm to establish tone, setting, meaning, and to draw out the reader’s imagination. For example, the title of this story “Salvation” is ironic considering the boy (who was the main character) was not actually “saved” in the end. Hughes also uses irony in his word choices as evident in his use of the word “lambs” to represent the children’s innocence. The word lamb implies the children are naïve, incorruptible, and unlikely to be deceitful. But ironically, Langston...