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Langston Hughes Landlord

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One would be hard-pressed to find a more influential Harlem Renaissance author than Langston Hughes. His work left an impressive mark on society during the 20th century in a time full of heated social injustice, especially towards African Americans. His poem “Ballad of the Landlord” passionately illustrates the inequality that far too many experienced during that time, and even rings with an eerie amount of truth today. “Ballad of the Landlord,” tells the woes of a frustrated black tenant in an urban ballad form that is both humorous and yet sobering. The literal context of Hughes poem is quite obvious. Beginning the poem there is a tenant who is struggling to get repairs made to his rental house, and it appears that the landlord has…show more content…
and again after the landlord request to be paid ten dollars. “Well, that’s Ten Bucks more’n I’ll pay you/ Till you fix this house up new.” The humor is quickly lost and we can detect the seriousness of the situation as the poem progresses. In the heat of his frustration the tenant threatens the landlord, “You ain’t gonna be able to say a word/If I land my fist on you.” (19,20). After this, the landlord cries out to the police who swiftly come to his aide and haul the defeated tenant to jail. The last stanza, as short as it may be, sheds a great deal of light on the injustice and racial inequality of Hughes time. “MAN THREATENS LANDLORD/TENANT HELD NO BAIL/JUDGE GIVES NEGRO 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL” (31-33).
Hughes “Ballad of a Landlord” boldly illustrates the flawed society in which so many in his time were forced to live and should serve as a cautionary piece for us today. We have much to take away from the tale of this frustrated tenant who was the unfortunate starve this ballad. Amidst the humor, there is a serious social issue of racism that we should not easily
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