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Langston Hughes Not Without Laughter - Book Report/Review Example

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Langston Hughes Not Without Laughter

Buster and Jimboy are light complexioned colored people and they are easily forgiven for their trespasses on account of their favorable lighter skins. (Hughes 11). Sandy's older Aunt Tempy has climbed up the social ladder for the blacks and hardly disguises her disgust for her lowly family roots. Sandy's refusal to accept her expensive Christmas present shows his resistance to her hypocritical attempt at Christian charity during Christmas. Sandy's independent expression is his social commentary on the rising class differences in the black community. Tempy's longstanding behavior is part of Sandy's rites of initiation into the class prejudices. He is mature enough to express rejection of Tempy because she embodies antagonism towards the lower economic and social black classes. (Wintz & Finkelman 918).
Sandy matures with the accompaniment of the blues pop culture. Hager reflects the whites' ideology that wishes to suppress the black culture. She objects to Jimboy playing and singing the blues because she is still living under the oppression of white dominance. Jimboy and Harriet support the blues and the black culture because they want to be the resistance and make a difference for their race. Tracy, a literary scholar, records Hughes' as saying that; 'The Blues always impressed me as being very sad, sadder even than the Spirituals, because their sadness is not softened with tears, but hardened with laughter, the absurd, incongruous laughter of a sadness without even a god to appeal to.' (Tracy 115). The intra-racial resistance is part of the efforts to reconstruct and redefine black identity in post-Emancipation. Hughes makes Harriet a successful blues singer to show how aesthetics and class is a powerful combination that can aid instead of hinder the individual. The evolution of ethnic arts into a unique identity is part of the Harlem Resistance movement that accompanies the newly mature American African into the transitional phase of an independent person in society. (Wintz & Finkelman 918).
Sandy's initiation into the racial class prejudices occurs in this episode when he turns up at Mrs. Rice's kitchen to help Annjee. The fact that Sandy is there to help does not matter to Mrs. Rice, who is so selfish to spare Sandy the crumbs that she takes out her anger at Annjee. The narration says; 'Sandy felt ashamed for the white woman to see him eating a left-over pudding from her table, so he put the spoon down.' (Hughes 47). She throws her temper at Annjee partly to show her displeasure at Sandy and partly to humiliate her in front of her son. Annjee does not react to the slight because she has little education, needs to keep her precious job and cannot bear to offend Mrs. Rice. Sandy has been protected by his colored folks and feels hurt that his mother is badly treated. The narrative says; 'Mrs. Rice went out again through the swinging door, but Sandy stood near the sink with a burning face and eyes that had suddenly filled with angry tears. He couldn't help it - hearing his sweating mother reprimanded by this tall white woman in the flowered dress. Black, hard-working Annjee answered: 'Yes, ma' am, and that was all - but Sandy cried.' (Hughes 47). Sandy is innocent. He is old enough to understand ...Show more

Summary

Not Without Laughter is a novel written by Langston Hughes in 1930. It is about the colored protagonist, Sandy Williams, and his experiences living with the whites' racial discrimination as well as bourgeois black American African discrimination. The thesis states that Sandy's rites of initiation into the racial context of his society successfully provide him with a smooth transition into the real world…
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