Personal Response on Langston Hughes’s Poems

After reading a list of Langston Hughes’ poems, I found that his poems are genuinely impactful in spreading the impact of social and racial injustice in America, going against African Americans’ beauty and racial stereotypes and taking pride in his skin colour. Although I could not imagine how Hughes and African Americans had to go through, I can relate to Hughes as a person of colour living in a white society. Among his work, one poem that stood out to me is ‘Goodbye Christ.’ I will analyze how ‘Goodbye Christ’ differs from Hughes’ other poems in this response. 

The content in ‘Goodbye Christ’ is exceptionally different from Hughes’s other poems. Hughes usually describes his views and values through a story or a character, for example, ‘Ruby Brown.’ In ‘Ruby Brown,’ he talks about the injustice and racial problem through the pretty ruby brown girl in her town of not choosing to be either a maid or a prostitute due to her skin colour. “What can a coloured girl do On the money from a white woman’s kitchen? And ain’t there any joy in this town?” On the other hand, in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ he directly states his political standpoint and religion. “Make way for a new guy with no religion at all – A real guy named Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker Me – I said, ME!” From this line, Huges states that he is an atheist and even compares himself with different people like Stalin and Karl Marx; we can know his political standpoint- a communist. 

Other poems he wrote generally express the hope and optimism of the writer. For example, ‘I, Too, Sing America.’, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes.” When readers read “Tomorrow,” they can comprehend that he does not mean tomorrow, but sometimes in the future. This represents that Hughes hopes he will sit at the same table as white people one day. It symbolizes Hughes’s optimism and means that he believes African Americans will finally be seen as the white man’s equal one day. While in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ we can detect that Hughes is no longer carrying optimism; instead, it shows his bitterness and tiredness towards the injustice in the world. “Go ahead on now, you’re getting in the way of things. Lord.” This line illustrates that Hughes himself thinks the lord has no use in this world and has given up on him and the world. From this, we can catch a glimpse of the anger and disappointment of Hughes on the injustice in the world. Therefore, the tone in ‘Goodbye Christ’ is approvingly different from his other poems that usually carry a positive and optimistic side. At the same time, in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ he only shows his resentment and anger. 

To conclude everything discussed above, ‘Goodbye Christ’ has a more significant impact on me than his other work because of the frustration and anger emotions that he displays in the poem, and it lets readers have a glimpse of his personal viewpoint. Besides that, I have enjoyed reading Hughes’ poems because it has given me a greater awareness of racial injustice and the importance of being proud of your skin colour.