Who is the speaker in "The Weary Blues" by Langston Hughes?

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The speaker in "The Weary Blues" never reveals to us who he actually is. However, we know that he is involved to an extent in the jazz scene on Lenox Avenue; he knows not only the meaning of technical musical features as syncopation, but also what happens to the "Negro" piano player at the end of the night.

We can assume that the speaker has an affinity with the blues, based on his exhortations--"O Blues!" He also seems to have a particular interest in music, which might echo from "a black man's soul."

The final stanza of this poem is what really complicates the matter. The speaker, it seems, is not a simple bystander. If this were the case, how could he know that the pianist "slept like a rock or a man that's dead" after his concert? We could interpret this stanza as a step outside the scene of the poem as the speaker becomes somewhat omniscient. Alternatively, we could infer that the narrator knows the piano player or that the narrator is sufficiently familiar with the scene, and with the feelings of people in the black community, to begin to imagine how the man might have slept after such a performance.

The ultimate answer to this question is that we do not know, but we do know that the speaker is someone who is interested in communicating to the wider world what this community values.

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Who is the narrator of "The Weary Blues"?

The narrative voice of "The Weary Blues" is in the first person. The narrator describes the events s/he experiences, but does not give us any detailed self-description.

There are a few possible reasons why we do not get a self-description of the narrator.

One might be that we should assume that the narrator is, in fact, the poet himself. This is not, however, a supportable assumption, as the narrative voice a poet crafts, however it may exploit autobiographical details, is still shaped by literary exigencies. Thus it is better to think of a narrative voice as a quasi-character in this sort of poem.

Another reason for the lack of narrative self-description is to maintain the focus of the poem on the piano player rather than on the narrator.

The narrator is known to us only as a person who listens to the piano player (and refers to the piano player in the third person -- which would be rather odd if they were the same person). The narrator does have privileged information about what happens after the performance. Consider as you analyze the poem that most members of the audience would not be likely to know:

The singer stopped playing and went to bed

While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.

He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.

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