“Home,” first published in Esquire magazine in 1934, juxtaposes the sensitivity of a young, black classical violinist and jazz musician returning home ill from Europe against the unconcealed racism of his small southern hometown. Hughes subtly puts the story in a historical context by telling the reader that the musician, Roy Williams, landed in New York “on the day that Hoover drove the veterans out of Washington.”
Williams arrives home, formally dressed, and becomes aware that he is home when he hears the racial slurs of the white men at the train station. He is warmly received by his mother, Sister Williams, who organizes a fund-raising concert at the black church which she attends. Predictably, the fifty-cent seats at the front of the church are occupied by whites, and the twenty-five-cent seats in back are occupied by blacks. Art does not, as Hughes points out often in his writing, integrate people socially.
After the concert, Williams meets a woman in the audience who has caught his eye, a white woman wearing a cheap coat and a red hat, someone who seems to understand the classical music he played. She is Miss Reese, an aging music teacher at the local white high school. Miss Reese invites Williams to perform at the white high school, after which their respect for each other deepens.
Williams becomes increasingly ill and has difficulty sleeping, so he goes on late-night walks, on which he is sometimes formally dressed. On one such evening, he meets Miss Reese stepping out of a drug store. He bows to her in greeting and extends his hand just as a group of...
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