What do you think Hughes's perspective about the American dream is?
Langston Hughes seem to write this poem in direct engagement with Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing," and the polyvocal larger work Leaves of Grass. Whitman sought to be the bard of America, channeling multiple voices and perspectives through his unique poetic style. In doing to, Whitman portrayed the country as a tapestry based on e pluribus unum. His was a distinctive voice that gave a dynamic energy to the American Renaissance, the period just before the Civil War.
At the same time, for much of his life, Whitman was pro-slavery, thinking that emancipation would deprive the white laboring class he celebrated of jobs. He also feared the slavery issue would tear apart the country he loved. In Leaves, Whitman records his increasing sensitivity toward African Americans and the necessity of a nation in which all are free. At the same time, Whitman's poem may be scant on engaging fully in the racial problem that pervaded American life.
Hughes, writing just over a half century later, became...
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