What is the imagery used in Alain Locke's essay "The New Negro"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Since Alain Locke's "The New Negro" is an essay, it actually does not contain a great deal of imagery, but it does have a few instances. First it may be important to know exactly what imagery is. Imagery refers to any words or phrases an author uses to paint a picture in a reader's mind. Imagery always refers to one of the five senses, such as sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste. One image we can find is "his shadow" (p. 4). Locke is using this image to refer to the negro's oppressive past, referring to it as a shadow. It also serves as a sight image because we can see shadows. Other images can also be found in the short poem Locke refers to on page 5. Locke's essential point is to assert that suddenly a new negro is coming into being, a negro that is not being made inferior by his/her oppressive past and one who is establishing a brand new identity. Therefore, common imagery found in this poem is being used to relate to newness. Some of the images found in this poem are "bright," "like a flame," "night-gone," and "sun-down." The images of brightness and flame are being used in connection with the dawn, or sunrise. The rising sun begins a new day, so the images refer directly to the dawning of the "new negro" Locke is arguing about. In addition, we can see both brightness and flame, so these are sight images. Likewise, "night-gone" and "sun-down" refer to nighttime; nighttime refers to the past that the negro has just escaped. Plus, again, we can see both night and the sun going down, so these are sight images.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial