The world known fact is that Langston Hughes was one of the greatest American novelist, playwright, and poet. Also, he was the innovator of so-called jazz poetry that became the new format of the literary art. Among his outstanding works, one can also find autobiographical narratives. Among the two volumes of his autobiography, special attention should be drawn to the little story Salvation in the context of the volume called The Big Sea.
Learn more about the plot
Langston Hughes’ salvation is a story of a young boy who was saved from his sin at the age of twelve. However, later, the boy mentioned that it was not actually the saving procedure, explaining what has happened to him. After the town experienced the religious revival, the faith in God and religion itself became very popular. Aunt Reed was one of those who attended church every week, praying and asking God to forgive his sins. Once, children were invited to come to the mess in order to experience salvation. Aunt Reed told the boy that when Jesus would come to save him, the boy will see the light. That light will rescue him from his own sins. The young boy was so inspired by the idea of Jesus’ coming and light that he sat down on the bench and started to wait. He was so focused on the idea that could not even realize that Aunt Reed did not say it literally but metaphorically.
While sitting in the church, the boy experienced the preacher’s sermon and tears of the young girls who desired forgiveness. He saw people striving for the chance to get rid of their sins through confession and forgiveness. People continued praying all the time for their children until they got tired. After the children “saw the light,” they left the church one by one. In the end, the young boy and his friend Westly. The boy’s friend said he was tired of this procedures and went out as if he also had seen the light.
After long minutes of waiting for the light that had to change the boy’s life, he felt ashamed as nothing happened and Jesus did not come to him. His aunt continued praying, and he began to think what wrong was with him that he was not blessed by God. Finally, the boy thought about Westly who was not punished for his lie. That is why the narrator decided to pretend that he also can see the light coming to him from Jesus. So he suddenly stood up, and all the people felt joyful and happy for the boy.
At night the boy could not help but be crying so desperately. His aunt thought that the boy was blessed by the Holy Spirit that made him feel like that. However, she would never know that the actual reason for the boy’s tears was different. He was crying because he had to lie to everybody. He could not understand that that the God did not suppose to appear physically. Therefore, he could not understand what his mistake was that Jesus did not want to come and bless him. He felt miserable and desperate as he was indecent to experience that light.
Critics about the work
Apparently, in his work Hughes is the boy he describes. What is more, the author touches such an important topic as a religion that was one of the core values in the society he lived. The author speaks about salvation as the need of each Christian person who wants to be saved from his or her sins by God. For this reason, all the children and people, in general, dreamt about the possibility to see the light. Unfortunately, the boy did not understand the metaphorical meaning of the light, so he had to lie about his experience.
Despite the fact that the Hughes wrote a short story, he uses the control of all the dimensions in his writing. One can easily understand when, where, how, and for how long the story takes place. The author controls time as he sets the frames for the story. He starts with the weeks before the key event and describes the day for salvation in more details. He controls space as he speaks about the certain place where everything happens. He also mentions sounds in the space, for example, cheering people when the main character stood up.
All in all, regardless the fact that it is the autobiographical story, the author creates the unique atmosphere of it through the combination time and space, with the addition of the particular characters mentioned in the short story. One more core point is the ability of self-irony and even satire, as the author laughs at himself for his lack of education and comprehension in the sphere of religion. Evidently, because of such writing skills, he was so highly appreciated and respected as the great representative of the American literature society.