On the surface level, it is a lyrical poem with a running theme of the suffering of the African American throughout history. According to (Johnson), an explicated reading of the poem addresses how the tone of…
is crucial in communicating the meaning of the poem in that it allows the audience to read the poem not only as a account of the African – American suffering but also as a racial statement aimed at restoring the pride of the African –American. The narrative voice, stanzas, figures of speech and the diction in the “Negro” are orchestrated to communicate one or more of the following tones: pride, sad and hopelessness. The resultant mood of these tones makes the tone the most important element of the poem than the words used to describe the events of the poem.
The tones of pride, sad and hopelessness are established through the element of the narrative voice. The first person point of view establishes the speaker’s intimate relationship with the narrated events. However, the narration of events is marked by underlying tone; this tone can be established from the narrative voice. The voice does not lay much emphasis on the description of events yet it has a profound effect on the feelings of the audience, this is the effect of tone. The events are stated without too many details yet the effect is achieved. The effect of the tone on the audience is meant to align their feelings with the specific moods created. Langston capitalizes on tone to convey meaning of words. “ I am a Negro/ Black as the night is black/ Black like the depths of my Africa” (1-3). Without factoring the role of the tone, the stanza would be reduced to a mere explanation of the narrator’s color and origin. The bold tone in which these words are conveyed are crucial in understanding the meaning of these words as an affirmation of the Negro’s pride in his color and heritage. It is clear the speaker is stating what the audience already knows. (Campbell 65) argues that the mention of Negro is enough for the audience to imagine his color and place his roots making it irrelevant in deducting meaning in this context. The relevance of the tone in deducting the intended message renders ...
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