Harlem Renaissance Unit essay

Harlem Renaissance


1. Longing for another place

In Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variations”, thepoet narrates two different dreams that both express his longing foranother place. In the first stanza, the poet dreams nostalgically ofa place where he can live a carefree life away from the city andcolor persecution where daytime in the workplace is dominated bywhite people. In this place that he longs for, even the night is notblack but dark and gentle. In this place, he longs to rest under atall tree. In the second stanza, the poet has a different dream afterresting from a tiring day. He longs for a place where he can work inthe face of the sun and love his days and work. In this dream place,the days would even appear shorter and he would actually dance whileworking.

Claude McKay also longs for another place in thepoem “The Tropics in New York”. Here, the author expresses hislonging for another place very different from America presumably hishomeland. The land that the poet longs for has abundant fruits,beautiful landscapes and a rich culture as represented by the fruits,the nun-like hills and parish fairs respectively.

2. The term brother

Langston Hughes’ “I too” and Arna Bontemps’“A black man talks of reaping” use the term ‘brother’ indifferent ways. In “I too, (sing)”, the author is responding toanother poem “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman thatpraises different professionals for their role in nation building. In“I too”, the author highlights the role of African Americans innation building though he also indicates that they are segregated andmistreated in the course of their work by being sent to eat in thekitchen. Thus, nationhood makes the white and black man brothersdespite the segregation. In “A black man talks of reaping”, theuse of the term brother also sends the message that both races areproducts of America. Thus two authors use the term ‘brother’ insimilar ways to show that black people are equal to whites and thatboth are products of one creator and one nation.

At the same time, the term brother is applieddifferently. In saying that “I am the darker brother”, Hugheslays emphasis on the fact that black people are discriminated againstsimply because of their skin color. On the contrary, Bontemps doesnot make reference to skin color as the major difference between thetwo brothers or the cause of oppression.


Huggins,N. (2007). Harlem Renaissance.Oxford: Oxford University Press