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The Short Stories (Collected Works of…

The Short Stories (Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol 15)

by Langston Hughes, Langston Hughes

Other authors: Arnold Rampersad (Introduction)

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My first thought on the short story was that it was an interesting read. What I found most interested was how the point of view effected the story. The third person point of view allows the ending to be a twist, since you do not know what the main character is thinking about. Since the story is written in third person it make It hard the realize that the narrators insane until the end of the story. Since you don’t know the sergeants thoughts your initial view of the story is that it’s a black man walking around the cold trying to sleep. Instead there’s a black man in jail thinking he is in a jungle. The Pov made it easy to trick the reader. The symbolism I picked up in the story was the white snow. In the beginning the sergeant was covered in white snow, struggling to survive in the winter. I saw this as a symbol of a white man struggling to keep up in a white world. Since he was covered in snow trying to survive it was like their race trying to keep up in a white dominated world. All the sergeant wanted was to sleep he didn’t mean to commit any crimes. Langston Hughes writes the short story in a way that he wants you to take pity on the sergeant and African race. He writes the story in a way that an African American is trying hard to sleep, but is constantly struggling to make it alive.
  cutty106 | Sep 18, 2010 |
Langston Hughes does a great job in his short story "On the Road" with using metaphors to show the racial inequality in the world. He also uses the imaginary Jesus Christ to show that Jesus sees all races equally and that there should be racial equality in the world. The metaphor that Hughes uses at the beginning of the story is with the white snow. He says that there is white snow falling everywhere but Sergeant doesn't know it. Sergeant is hungry, tired and homeless and Langston writes that he doesn't notice the snow even though it is surrounding him. This symbolizes the dominant white power and shows that Sergeant is walking around in a white neighborhood, but he doesn't care, all he wants is food and shelter. He is denied food and shelter at the relief center, then again at the reverend, mainly because of his skin color. He finally breaks down a church and ends up taking a walk with the stone Jesus Christ. Hughes makes Jesus a neutral stone color. He is not white or black, he is just a neutral stone. Hughes makes a point of racial equality with this metaphor. Jesus is not favorable towards whites or blacks, rather he accepts everyone equally. With "On the Road," Hughes writes a story that everyone can relate to. Sergeant is the fallen hero archetype who many people can relate to and the metaphors make the story easy to interpret.
  jonathanwoo | Sep 18, 2010 |
The character of Christ in “On the Road” is a reflection of Sargent’s self, and he represents the suffering of the black population during the Great Depression. As Sargent walks away from the torn-down church he notes the crunching of the snow under his feet, but then notices two sets of crunching feet. As both Sargent and Christ walk along next to each other, crunching into the snow in a similar manner, they also bear the same traits in conversation, and laugh simultaneously too. Not only that, but through Sargent’s mind we observe Christ as a hobo just as Sargent himself is, and we see him as a statue with no skin color. Christ says that he has been kept on the cross for two thousand years, which is an intriguing statement. He couldn’t mean that cross on that specific church, because historically it couldn’t have been built more than a couple of hundred years previously so he must be using a metaphor. My interpretation of this is that he is referring to the moral justification that white people found in allowing blacks to suffer in such a way for so long. They kept him “up on the cross” by using his teachings to achieve the opposite of his goals.
  stier100 | Sep 18, 2010 |
“On the Road” tells a brief story of a black man depressed by the current economic state and oppressed by the reign of white supremacy. Langston Hughes shows this oppression through contrast of colors and the treatment he receives when he simply asks for help. The white snow contrasted to his dark skin shows that everywhere there is this white coating, everything is lathered with white, owned by the white and Sargeant doesn’t seem to notice. Sargeant also asks a reverend for help and even he won’t help a poor man get out of the snow, the first thing the reverend sees is color, white snow and a black man. Then Sargeant tries to break into the church and all the white neighbors try to stop him and he ends up knocking down the church and killing all of them showing the church’s weak structure, not physically but on a symbolic level. At the end we discover that he had been knocked out by the consistent barrage of beatings he had received by the police during the time he was trying to enter the church and placed in jail. His walk with Jesus was a mere dream. What’s interesting is that throughout the story he had been searching for a place to rest and get food and now that he’s in a place where he could do just that he insists on breaking out. It’s like Sargeant is doomed to follow a path of misery.
  ryan.stellman | Sep 18, 2010 |
Hughes uses a plethora of images, concepts, and symbolism to show the gritty nature of being both African American and alive during the depression. The character is dehumanized in the very beginning by the phrase "a human piece of night with snow on his face". This clearly displays that even clergymen viewed him as a piece of something, not really a person, but a mere splotch of darkness craving nothing but a warm bed and food to fill his stomach. He has become numb, numb to everything, because he is tired of being denied, and spat upon, and treated as a second rate being that he doesn't even know that there is snow. He feels it physically, cold, and running down his neck, but doesn't notice it due to his emotional and hateful state. The Church also has white steps, it is a white building, meant to keep Sargeant and his darkness away, a bright citadel meant to represent everything that he cannot attain. When He brings the institution tumbling down, he succeeds in breaking the white man's institution down, he is pleased, and after that Jesus is on his side, not disapproving of his action, merely thanking sergeant for releasing him. This, however comes tumbling down on him when he realizes he is in Jail, locked up, and yet he still wonders about stone Jesus, showing that he either sustained a great deal of head trauma, or holds onto some form of hope for the future.
  deannnav | Sep 18, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hughes, Langstonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, Langstonmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Rampersad, ArnoldIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0826214118, Hardcover)

Sometimes called the Poet Laureate of Black America, Langston Hughes was also an accomplished writer of fiction, with a novel and several collections of stories to his credit. This collection brings together nearly 50 of Hughes's best stories. Many are drawn from three earlier collections, but some are between book covers for the first time. Of special note for anyone interested in Hughes's development as a writer are three stories written when Hughes was a high school student in Cleveland.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:35 -0400)

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