I come from a loving, tight-knit, imperfect but great family. My parents have always been involved in my life even when I pushed them away. I have wanted for little. One of my biggest weaknesses, one that has always shamed me, is that I have always been lonely. I’ve struggled to make friends because I can be socially awkward, because I’m weird, because I live in my head. When I was young, we moved around a lot so there was rarely any time to get to know a new place, let alone new people. Loneliness was the one familiar thing, making me this bottomless pit of need, open and gaping and desperate for anything to fill me up.
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"Salvation," an essay by Langston Hughes, is about Hughes' experience of seeking and losing his faith. This reflective essay serves as Hughes commentary on his expectations and disappointments in the realm of religion. In the essay, Hughes narrates an experience where he was given the opportunity to be "saved" in front of the entire congregation of his church, but instead was lead to strongly question the existence of God. The irony of the title with the final line of the essay highlights the central issue of the text: expectation and disappointment.
Hughes wrote these narratives to convey his loss of faith in Jesus and the religious structure of his youth; however, this is also an argument against the systems that situate "a big boy twelve years old to cry incessantly of a situation he does not have idea about. Consider Hughes's description of the elders in church, "A great many old people came and knelt around us and prayed, old women with jet-black faces and braided hair, old men with work-gnarled hands." From paragraph four, Hughes's description of the old people illustrates the stark contrast of the young "lambs" and the persistent elders. Hughes and the "lambs" from paragraph three, of this essay is representative of the innocence of children. They have little capability for deceit, but Hughes, who was "going on thirteen," is a little old to be described as a "lamb." This word choice is probably intended to be somewhat ironic itself, as a thirteen year old is certainly capable of deceit, and in fact, he perpetrates a major deceit at the end of the essay when he states: "So I got up, pretending to be saved."
Hughes's explicit audience comprises adults who have experienced a loss of faith or disillusionment in their lives. Hughes's intent manifests in his treatment of his younger self. Hughes's implicit audience includes people who have experienced religious or societal pressure. The "sw...
Kevin M. Levin is a historian and educator based in Boston. He is the author of Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder , now available in paperback and the forthcoming collection of essays, Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites . He is currently working on Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth for the University of North Carolina Press . You can find him online at his website: Civil War Memory and on Twitter.
I once wrote 'nigger' in my English essay and my teacher gave me F and told me to use 'little black boy' instead wtf
"The Church as Koinonia of Salvation: Its Structures and Ministries " (2004) from the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue in the United States.
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