Langston Hughes Questions and Answers

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Can someone tell me an analysis of "Berry" by Langston Hughes?

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S.L. Watson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the short story "Berry" by Langston Hughes, the author illustrates the themes of racism and inequality. The main character of the story, Milberry Jones—whom the children call Berryis hired to be a dishwasher at Dr. Renfield's Summer Home for Crippled Children at the beach on the Jersey shore. Unfortunately for Berry, he is black and is working with a group of racist white people. The previous white dishwasher was paid ten dollars, but Berry receives eight dollars despite doing much more work. As the story progresses, Berry starts doing the work of many of the other employees, such as carrying wood and even polishing silver. Berry understands he is being treated like a "work horse, a fool-and a nigger." However, Berry needs the work, and he becomes fond of the crippled children. In turn, the children grow to love him.

Hughes draws a parallel between the the crippled children and Berry; they are both caught in the web of an unfair system. The children get inferior food and treatment just as Berry does. However, in Berry's case, his ill treatment is a result of his skin color. At the end of the story, Berry is fired because a child falls out of their wheel chair. resulting in damage to the chair. The home is run by corrupt white people who hold power over those who are weaker. Hughes illustrates the unfairness of a system that promotes inequity and racism, whether one is judged by skin color or physical disability.

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Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I'm wondering if you may be referring to Faith Berry's biography of Langston Hughes.  If so, here are some relevant links:


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