“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes’s
In Let America be America Again, the author, Langston Hughes, compares the American dream to the American reality to depict what America has evolved to be and what it was meant to be. America meant freedom and equality, but greed, oppression, and inequality are evident. The poem was published in 1936, a time when the nation was going through difficulty. From the poem, the pledges laid out by the founding fathers of the USA are not taken seriously. The state has to revert to its beginnings and must fulfill its promises to all people the same way the founding fathers, revolutionaries, pilgrims, and the Puritans did. Let America be America Again is a call back that indicate where we are destined to be and where we have reached.
Hughes brings forward the need for freedom, liberty, and equality as they are the main principles the nation was instituted upon. The real America is not the dream it claims to be, it should be a place without tyrant schemes, and kings connive, an ideal place of patriotism and truth for everyone in it. He wants a nation with an equal appreciation of all members of the society and leaders without sole control over the entire population. He desires an America with freedom and opportunities to everyone despite their race or past. Precisely, the poem affirms that people are being robbed of their rights and some of them are enjoying the freedom. He refers to the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of freedom but pines for a nation with liberty as not a symbol but an actuality.
Throughout the poem, he repeatedly states that America was never America to him. He addresses the immigrants, poor, Native American, and the blacks who saw it as a haven where they could be safe from persecutions witnessed in their homeland. However, it is a community steered by the affluent who have crushed the poor. Despite being the land of the free, some underprivileged individuals are not free. He personalizes the plights of folks, workers, and the farmer who came to America hoping for something more significant (Hughes, Frasconi, & Frasconi, 2004).
Consequently, the idea of “America” is in dreams, it should be the dream that dreamers dreamed for. It should be a great and robust land of love, but not a dog eat dog world. Its citizens should drink from the cup of plenty but not always being outside the margin of success and comfort despite their hard work and ambition.
Momentarily, he acknowledges that many dreamers who came to America carving out for acceptance and equal wealth were mighty as their dreams were so robust, dependable and brave. The refugees from Poland, England, Ireland, and the African slave had no choice but to settle in America. However, even after the foundation of the “homeland of the free,” they were unable to grasp its reaches. The White Americans who were moved by Great Depression, the African-Americans are in challenging post slavery conditions, and the hopeful immigrants are worked so hard to receive nothing. They should, therefore, step out of their underserved communities and fight for their rights, and turn America into a welcoming and beautiful nation. Everyone should rise and redefine the American equality and emphatically take back their land again.
Even though America is currently plagued by greed and discrimination, there is hope for improvement hence Hughes’ optimistic and powerful end-note of perseverance and determination (Hughes, Frasconi, & Frasconi, 2004). However, America never was America to me contradicts his view that America should return to America in the dream. In parenthesis, the verses are somewhat suppressed, and most likely are not meant to be spoken. Hughes seems to be willing to speak his thoughts but somehow cannot do it. The verses in parenthesis critique the previous stanzas as they proceed and depict a romantic America that is consistent to the American Dream. There is something beneath liberty, real opportunity, free life and equality in the air we breathe hence the American reality cannot be consistent with the American dream.
Generally, Hughes’ Let America be America is inspired by and dedicated to political subjects. It accounts for the American Dream that is a cruel illusion and explores the darker areas of life, a history of exploitation, and outlines the struggles of American composition. It touches on various events and issues that were prominent at the time. It comments sardonically on numerous sectors of the American society. Whilst hard and pessimistic hitting, Hughes has an optimistic ending and lights the way with hope for an America that it once was in dreams.
- Hughes, L., Frasconi, A., & Frasconi, A. (2004). Let America Be America Again. George Braziller.