Discuss the effectiveness of Hughes' "Trumpet Player."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The effectiveness of Hughes' homage to the jazz musician is a powerful one.  "Trumpet Player" does not miss a beat in making the connection between jazz and the history of African- Americans.  The indelible imprints of the slave experience upon the jazz musician is present from the first stanza, where the prelude to playing a note is the recollection of the slave experience and its brutality.  Hughes is able to make the postmodern connection that language does not do justice to the slave experience.  Instead, it has to be expressed through the notes of music, a non- verbal mode of communication.  At the same time, Hughes is able to make the argument that the music being played by the trumpet player is one that expresses desire and a sense of individual redemption from a historical condition that might pin one down under its oppressive weight.  In bringing out both conditions, Hughes is able to draw a paralell between the modern condition where the understanding of the past condition is set against the potential for hope and redemption of the present and the future.  This becomes one of the strongest examples of effectiveness in the poem as Hughes is able to take an individual predicament and link it to a collective one.

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