Through their styles of writing, how do Langston Hughes and Richard Wright Address the idea of race in America?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a fairly broad question.  I mean, there is no earthly way the space here on eNotes will allow a sufficient discussion of such an intense topic.  I do think that both Hughes and Wright spend a great deal of time exploring the condition of power in America.  They both focus on this in specific terms with the African- American condition and how power, or the lack of it, is a part of this reality.  I think that Wright 's association with Communism and the emphasis on socio- economic reality is something that truly drives his work.  For example, Dave in "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," is marginalized both economically and socially in that he is a poor young man of color.  Both race and class play a role in his silencing, and Wright forces the reader to examine both conditions critically.  This is something that is present in Hughes, but not in as dominant of a form.  Hughes focuses on the condition of African- Americans in a paradigm of how dreams and opportunities are continually denied or "deferred" to them.  In this vein, economics is a part of such a process, but it seems to me that Hughes is more interested in exploring a condition where dreams on many levels, economics being one of several, are denied or deferred, whereas with Wright, this condition is something rooted in both economics and race.  This comes out in their style of writing in that the prose of Wright is centered on the discussion of race and class.  Characters and condition emerge in his prose where there is both an artistic and an sociological analysis present, compelling the reader to analyze situations presented in the prose.  For Hughes, the complexity of dreams and their effect on the individual is widened in the idea of poetic exploration, which is not necessarily defined in one domain or realm but something, like poetry in general, can be explored in many different ways with many different approaches.  Their respective differences in style, in this instance, could be reflective of their different approaches to discussing the issue of race in America of the 20th Century.