illustrated portrait of American poet and author Langston Hughes

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What is the point of view in the poem "Genius Child" by Langston Hughes?

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Point of view refers to the perspective from which the narrator tells the story or a speaker presents his thoughts in a poem. In this poem, Langston Hughes has adopted a first-person perspective. This means the speaker assumes a subjective stance and presents what he thinks of a particular situation,...

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Point of view refers to the perspective from which the narrator tells the story or a speaker presents his thoughts in a poem. In this poem, Langston Hughes has adopted a first-person perspective. This means the speaker assumes a subjective stance and presents what he thinks of a particular situation, event, or idea.

In "Genius Child," Hughes' perception regarding the treatment of individuals who are seen as geniuses is that they are much maligned and even feared by society. He might be speaking about his own experiences and applies this to, what he believes, are the experiences of geniuses (especially in childhood) worldwide. This does not necessarily make his perspective true.

The speaker is clearly bitter and resentful about the manner in which society supposedly treats such children and shockingly suggests that the genius child should be killed because, in death, the child's soul can "run wild." The intimation is obvious. In life, such a child is restricted and not given the opportunity to exercise his or her genius. Since society cannot bear the open and free nature of such children, it purposely and forcefully binds them and hampers their development. Hughes feels death is the only thing that will free them from such bondage.

The poem clearly suggests that genius children are seen as a threat, for even the song, which the poem is, should be sung softly.

It is also evident that the speaker believes such children cannot be loved. He compares them to eagles and rhetorically asks if such a creature can be loved. It is significant that he chooses an eagle because they are seen as symbols of freedom, courage, and strength—admirable qualities—but he questions whether they can be loved. It is as if Hughes is mocking society's short-sighted attitude to child geniuses. Genius children possess all these qualities but are shunned, restricted, and ill-treated because society has an irrational fear of them. They are seen as monsters who generate fear at the mere mention of their names.

The repetition of the line "Nobody loves a genius child,"and its separation from the general text, emphasizes the speaker's sentiment that genius children are treated with disdain. The word 'nobody' powerfully suggests that such children are not even loved by their immediate families. This sentiment, more than anything else, indicates the poet's subjective perspective, as his claim definitely cannot be seen as a universal truth.

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