Use of Fantasy in Langston Hughes's On the Road Essay

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Use of Fantasy in Langston Hughes's On the Road

Langston Hughes's short story "On the Road" begins and ends realistically enough: his protagonist, Sargeant, enters a strange town one winter's night during the Depression and finds himself without shelter, as many did during this era. Hughes gives Sargeant the additional burden of being an African-American in the "white" part of town; therefore, he faces the perfectly plausible obstacles of shelters that "drew the color line" and racist police officers who beat and imprison him. But despite the realistic beginning and ending of the story, Hughes places an elaborate fantasy segment involving Sargeant talking to a stone Christ who has "broken off the cross" in the story's middle.
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In the fantasized conversation, Christ confirms for Sargeant that people like those in the town have kept him "nailed to a cross for nearly two thousand years," and that he is glad that Sargeant has finally liberated him. Christ's meaning here is clear: that many Christians have reduced him to merely a symbol of suffering rather than having allowed the spirit of what he taught to roam freely. While they may claim to revere Christ's image on the stone crucifix, the townspeople have completely failed to heed Christ's message of brotherhood and love, as proven by their reaction to Sargeant's attempt to enter their church. The white townspeople have proven as cold and unresponsive as the snow which blankets their town. The newly-liberated stone Christ may not know where to go next, "but I'm leavin' here," he tells Sargeant. Christ feels that going anyplace else would be preferable
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