Reading Journal of Langston Hughes
Self-identity of being a black American seems to be strongly emphasized in Langston Hughes' poems. Langston Hugh used to say that he was proud of being a black American poet and ashamed of those Negro poets who would like to be white ones. From this point of view, I guess "race segregation" or "race discrimination" would be emphasized in his poems as well. And this is true.
"Mulatto" is the most impressive poem of ten of Langston Hughes' poems I read. "Mulatto" is a person with one black parent and one white one. "Mulatto" seems to be a free verse. I think this poem can be summarized in two conversational sentences as follows, "I am your son, white man! /íK/You are my son! / Like hell!"
The first line "I am your son, white man!" is expressed in a strong tone. Specifically, it is not a sentence a son says to his father, because the normal sentence would be like this, "I am your son, dad!" Here "white man" sounds sarcastic. The author tried to make a clear line between black and white. "You are my son!" sounds normal; however, the following line "Like hell!" overthrows the sweet relationship between father and son, and this is because of difference skin colors-black and white. Both of the father and son seem to be forced to accept the relationship which they don't like but have to have.
"The south", "stars", "night","nigger", which are symbols of the Negro are repeated again and again in this poem. The North is supposed to belong to the white, and the south is supposed to belong to the black. I think here "The South" refers to "Africa" which is the resource of the Negro. The color of stars is yellow and sort of tawny, just like the skin color of mulattos. "The Southern night/ Full of stars/ Great big yellow stars." These lines obviously talk about the Negro in Africa-the mulatto's' friends. "What's a body but a toy?" which is repeated in this poem, show the Negro's low status in society. "A little yellow/ Bastard boy." Is quite a sharp diction. "O, sweet as earth, / Dusk dark bodies/ Give sweet birth," these lines show a harmonic atmosphere, but the following line "To little yellow bastard boys" kills the sweet and peaceful feeling.
I see the sense of inferiority of a black boy in this poem. The last few lines, "I am your son, white man! / A little yellow/ Bastard boy." Sounds sad to me, especially this is what a mulatto son says to his father.