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In the short story "Salvation" by Langston Hughes, is he criticizing Christianity? If...

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hunrslb2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 24, 2007 at 6:26 AM via web

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In the short story "Salvation" by Langston Hughes, is he criticizing Christianity? If so, what aspect or tradition of Christian faith is he criticizing? If he is not criticizing the Christian faith, what is the interpretation of the story?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 24, 2007 at 7:14 AM (Answer #2)

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Hughes is not criticizing Christianity in this story. He's showing how the adults in a child's life can confuse him/her if they don't fully explain things to the child.

Langston loses his faith because of Auntie Reed. She tells him that "when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to your insides!" Langston took this literally, expecting to actually see a light and to feel something happening in his body. When he doesn't see or feel anything after he's saved, Langston gives up on believing in Jesus because he believed his aunt's descriptions of salvation. His confusion worsens when Westley gets saved because he knows Westley didn't experience anything such as a light and is lying. Langston goes up to be saved only because he doesn't want to disappoint the adults, and they are all telling him to come up and be saved.

That night, Langston cries because he lied, showing he is a good Christian because he believes the commandment about lying. His aunt misreads his tears and tells her husband he's crying because he's experienced the Holy Ghost and seen Jesus.

The story reflects how adults don't realize or understand how children think, especially when it concerns a concept as difficult as faith. Auntie Reed expects Langston to accept what she says because she's the adult, and he's a child. She never explains that Biblical stories are a useful guide for how to live one's life.

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alexis-08 | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 21, 2008 at 12:55 AM (Answer #3)

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well humm he HAS ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A FREE MINDED PERSON I THINK WE ALL DO BUT HE HAD MTOOK HIS FEELING ONTO A PAPER FULLLL FRIENDS FAMLIYM AND HATERED HE HASS ALWAYS MADE IT A LITTLE EASIER TO STAND OUT FOR HIM SELF TO TALK ABOUT WHAT HE BELEIVED IN  THATS WHAT I THINK 

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freeman | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted May 23, 2008 at 1:09 AM (Answer #4)

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In the short story “Salvation”, Langston Hughes learns a lesson at the age of twelve about being saved, salvation, and religion.

Because of social pressure, he lies and says he has seen a light, has seen Jesus, even though he has seen nothing and nothing has happened inside him.

That night he cries because he has deceived people and learns that lying is contrary to his nature. His salvation is learning that not doing the right thing will cause him continued cognitive dissonance - he is a good boy, yet has lied. He is saved from doing the wrong thing in his future (sinning).

However, the short story “Salvation” is an allegory. Langston is saved from religion because he learns that all religion, including Christianity, teaches adults to lie to their children and children to lie to adults. He learns that there is no Jesus, no God, no soul, and that religion is based on lies. He is saved from believing and leads a life based on what really is - reality.



(See: "Goodbye Christ" at link below)

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angeldawn55555 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted September 25, 2008 at 2:00 AM (Answer #5)

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This story is not necessarily criticizing Christian faith.  What it is attempting to illustrate is the pressure that Langston faced concerning the choice, the acceptance factor of the "right" decision, the repercussions of the "wrong" decision and the effects of the ordeal in its aftermath.  If you notice in the story, the minister says to Langston five different time, almost one right after the other, "Why don't you come?"  He is not saying it as in a sincere way, but he is almost telling him to come rather that asking him.  Also, the aunt, "Sister Reed" described her personal salvation in specific detail, and since other older people in Langston's life had also experienced something similar, Langston is confused as to why he didn't noe "receive Jesus" the way the others had.  In essence, his ability to appease his aunt has left him with a sense of failure in the fact that in order to enact the appeasement, he must lie.

It is unfortunate, but sometimes realistic.  The basic lesson of the story (and it is always an opinion of course, unless you are the author) is that he was damaged emotionally as well as spiritually by the bandwagon mentality of a congregation that valued an "everyone on board" approach rather than an honest and sincere approach, which is the way Langston had initially tried to attempt his own salvation.

I hope this helps and you are able to read a little further into the story now!  :0)

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vingthor | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 12, 2009 at 9:13 AM (Answer #6)

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I don't think he is critisizing christianity per say but he's just revealing the innocence of youth and the pressures some adults can bring on you in the name of jesus christ

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schahi3213 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 18, 2011 at 9:14 AM (Answer #7)

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its per se*

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amybamy | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 30, 2014 at 9:45 PM (Answer #8)

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bitch killA

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