Comparing “Salvation” By: Langston Hughes and “American History” By: Judith Ortiz Cofer
Despite the age, sex, nationality, and religion, humanity always has the same eternal problems. Whatever means we use to fight them, they were, are, and will exist until people live on the earth. For some of people, it is triviality, and they do not pay attention to it, while others try to facilitate a life avoiding them. Also, there is a category of people, who, using the examples from their own life, cover this issue and try to avoid them.
In this essay we will consider two different stories written by two different authors. Despite this, they have much in common; namely they share the main idea. “Salvation” and “American history” are not just pieces of literature and fiction. First of all, both pieces of writing depict reconsideration of the earliest stage of the life, a childhood. The main heroes are no more small children who cry in a pillow when they end up not understanding something. They are adults, morally and consciously formed identities, who seek the cause of action.
In these two works, examples of misunderstanding between generations are vividly depicted (Amy Carrillo analyses of Langston Hughes “Salvation”). Instead of understanding children, their problems, and their understanding of the world, adults insist on their own vision. In “Salvation”, Langston had to believe in that what he did not understood. He was not asked if he had understood what faith is and what salvation is. He is a child who lives in his own world, where there are no such concepts. However, his family, instead of spending time for informative talks, took him to the church one day and made him believe in Jesus, as ther faithful families do. Interestingly, he was not alone. Together with him on a bench sat Westley, the boy who was also pressured to recognize the truth. As a result of the careless attitude of adult, children begin to lie. However, no child wants to disappoint people who believe him/her and promises not to lie anymore. Such behavior is the first step to make children keep away from family and avoid it. Although to some extent, the author describes true salvation of protagonist. Maybe, he did not see the Holy Spirit, as is thought by his uncle and aunt, when hearing, he cries in his room. In the end, we see that this situation made the child disappointed because he was not like all people as he could not see Jesus. He understands that he cannot be saved because of this. As a result, children often become unsociable. But the positive moment is that the child was crying sincerely because he realized that lied in the church. This kid is sincere with himself, unlike his relatives, who cannot understand that they do not respect the child. They do not understand their own selfishness, and that is why, the child cannot get that salvation of which they speak so emotionally.
“American history” differs only by the external appearance of the work. There is another situation, another heroes and action, but the problem, the main goal, is the same as in the previous story. The fact, which the author wants to convey to the reader, is identical to “Salvation” written by Langston Hughes. No wonder that famous writer Oscar Wilde said that the parents are the most selfish people. For instance, Skinny Bones is a typical American schoolgirl who does not communicate with others, because children llaugh at her unusual appearance. She is enclosed in herself; she has no friends, because she spends school hours alone. Only later, there appears one person. It is worth to pay attention to the fact that her parents are not interested in her life. They discuss their own plans for the future or reminisce about a wonderful past. We do not see that her mother is interested in her life or discusses any problems with her. The girl remains alone with her thoughts. Her mother can only talk about morality, but she is not interested in internal feelings of the daughter.
The intensification of the conflict in the novel takes place when the president is killed, and the girl remains beyond understanding what this situation means to people around her (Cofer). The teacher is a first person, who makes an attack on children. Teachers are the first people who should teach children patriotism, but here, we see that this murder does not mean anything to students. That is why the teacher becomes angry at them. Similar situation is in the family of the girl. When she comes home, her mother blames her for planning to visit a friend, instead of mourning with her family. Returning home after an unsuccessful walk, the girl forgot about her own experiences and began to think of the dead president. She did not know what exactly she should feel in this situation, and because of this despair she cried, as well as the hero of the previous history.
Hughes and Cofer make the final of stories open. Everyone needs to decide on his/her own how to solve these problems. However, both authors insist that parents should never forget that children always suffer because of their excessive selfishness.
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