What is the mood, tone and purpose of the author in Langston Hughes' poem "Life Is Fine"?

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mdelmuro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Langston Hughes's poem "Life is Fine" focuses on the struggles of a man who is dealing with heartbreak. In this poem, the man contemplates suicide by both jumping into a river and then jumping from the roof of a tall building. However, by the end of the poem, the man declares, "Life is fine! / Fine as wine!"

There is a major tonal shift in the third to last stanza in this poem. The first six stanzas focus on the speaker's despair. In the third stanza, when he's standing at the top of a building, he says, "I thought about my baby / And thought I would jump down." In addition, the speaker proclaims, "But it was / High up there! / It was high!" However, in the third to last stanza, the speaker begins with a sense of resignation, "So since I'm still here livin' / I guess I will live on." He goes on to say that life can be difficult ("Though you may see me holler, / And you may see me cry—"), but he won't give up.

The simile in the final stanza, in which the speaker says, "Life is fine! / Fine as Wine! / Life is Fine!" demonstrates the author's purpose in writing this poem. Comparing life to wine shows that life gets better as people age. Yes, heartbreak hurts and there are tons of painful moments in life, but the older you become, the easier it is to deal with.