Langston Hughes Tales Of Simple And The Symbolic Undertone

Decent Essays

Tales of Simple and the Symbolic Undertone

Langston Hughes is considered to be one of the most well known poets/writers in the modern era. One of his most notable works was a series of fictional short stories called Tales of Simple. In these tales, Hughes uses symbolism to express his feelings and views on African American history through the character Jesse B. Semple. In literary terms, the word “symbolism” is defined as being a person, object or event that suggests more than its literal meaning. In Langston Hughes’ “Tales of Simple”, the author uses the main character’s name, feet and view on a type of Jazz music to symbolize the life of an African American and the effect of slavery, discrimination and racism on blacks. One of the …show more content…

The point Hughes makes was that a black man during that time was focused on work and providing for himself and his family. And work was done while standing. Hughes shows that the true tale of an African American was at the physical foundation of a person: the feet. The symbolic nature of Simples’ feet goes beyond the mindset of African Americans at that time. Hughes uses Simple’s feet to symbolize the poverty experienced by blacks. These feet have walked ten thousand miles working for white folks and another ten thousand keeping up with the colored. These feet have stood at altars, crap tables, free lunches, bars, graves, kitchen doors, betting windows, hospital clinics, WPA desks, social security railings, and in all kinds of lines from soup lines to the draft. (100)
As the title of the tale states, Simple’s feet do have their own life. Not only do Simple’s feet showcase the “thousands of miles working for white folks,” but they also tell the tales of where he has been when not working. All of the aforementioned places are either associated with poverty or things viewed as aid by society. Hughes uses this to symbolize the negative connotation attached to African Americans because of the poverty most encountered at the time. Langston Hughes symbolizes the life of hard labor lived by a black man through the continued reference to Simple’s feet: “The corns I’ve cut away would dull a German razor. The bunions I forgot would make you ache from now

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