How does Langston Hughes recount the revival meeting in his essay "Salvation"?

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In "Salvation," Hughes tells us about the revival meeting through the voice of his 13-year-old, or almost 13-year-old, self. Throughout the essay he stays tightly within this 13-year-old point-of-view.

He expresses this perspective through several different tools, including the repetition of exclamation points: "My aunt told me that when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside! And Jesus came into your life! And God was with you from then on!" Through these almost ridiculous exclamatory phrases, Hughes shows us the degree to which the beliefs of his aunt and his own naive enthusiasm influenced him at the time. Hughes also says, "So I sat there calmly in the hot, crowded church, waiting for Jesus to come to me," showing us how his 13-year-old self took these religious teachings quite literally.

Later Hughes describes the patience with which he "kept waiting serenely for Jesus..." Hughes writes, "I wanted to see him, but nothing happened to me. Nothing! I wanted something to happen to me, but nothing happened." As Hughes describes the sobbing of his aunt and the cries of the congregation, who are all waiting for him to be "saved," the scene becomes more and more ridiculous. Because we as his audience understand that Jesus isn't going to literally appear before him, this scene becomes quite funny, and slightly sad. It's a powerful depiction of the ways that adults and adult religions can influence children. It's also a powerful depiction of an important moment of understanding in Hughes's life, a moment of disillusionment when he sheds the remnants of boyhood and stops believing in Jesus, and perhaps also in the adults around him.

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