Characters

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

There is only one real character in this poem: the titular trumpet player, a black man dogged by "weariness" who has evidently experienced considerable suffering during his life. That this is largely as a result of his race is indicated by the repeated references to him as "the Negro," as well as to the poet's commentary about how the world he lives in has "tamed" most expressions of his true self, even his natural hair. Only in music can the trumpet player find a "hypodermic needle" for his battered soul.

The trumpet player's plight is not his alone. Hughes refers to the racial memory of slave ships and transportation as a weight which adds to the trumpet player's weariness. What he longs for is what powers his music—the "desire" for the wide sea and the moon, places where he could be himself and would not be forced to exist in the aftermath of slavery. Obviously this can never be, but the trumpet player still draws upon this "longing" to help him create music which is like "honey" and which offers him the only consolation he can find.

The trumpet player is notably not named; his plight is representative of that faced by many black Americans.

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