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Langston Hughes and Satire

Langston Hughes' "On the Road" and Richard Wright's "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" have notable similarities. Both protagonists are black men disadvantaged by living in a white society, and both find themselves suddenly unwilling to yield to their circumstances any longer and determined to resist. Both stories clearly pivot on racial differences, focusing on the difficulties associated with being a member of a minority race. Both Hughes' character, Sargeant, and Wright's character, David, become angry at the way they are being treated and decide to stop allowing themselves to be victimized and start insisting on equitable treatment. Despite these salient likenesses, however, there are some differences when these stories are viewed at a deeper level. This paper will examine the issues that make the stories distinct from one another-survival vs. random action, sanctuary vs. freedom, and fight vs. flight.

Survival is a far cry from random action. In Hughes' story, Sargeant's stand is related to survival. It is winter, and he is cold, tired, and hungry, and the snow is "cold, wet, sopping in his shoes" (272). Having been turned away from shelters multiple times, he finally decides that he should be able to receive sanctuary in a church and hangs onto a stone pillar inside, with the police and bystanders assailing him. In Wright's story, by contrast, David's stand with the gun is nothing more than experimentation, a random action that neither is intended to nor does achieve any specific purpose.

Sanctuary offers emergency respite, while freedom is an ongoing way of life. In Hughes' story, Sargeant is seeking sanctuary. He needs a place of protection from the elements, where he can rest and possibly get a bite to eat. He literally has nowhere to go to get out of the cold, snowy weather. David, on the other hand, is seeking freedom. After admitti


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Langston Hughes and Satire. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:47, July 01, 2022, from