University Of Maryland University College
ENGLISH 101 Term I, Intruduction To Writing
Journal # 1
"SALVATION" an essay by Langston Hughes:
My Thoughts On The Reading Of
By: Cristian Rodriguez
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2005
"Salvation...shows Hughes' great gift for treating essentially serious subjects with a mixture of sensitivity and humor" this is a quote from the introduction before the essay "Salvation" begins. While the essay may have some humor, sensitivity, however, is not quite there. There is a shadow of resentment and a not so sensitive display of sarcasm easily picked up by a reader. Knowing how the essay ends, references such as "God damn! I'm tired o' sitting here. Let's get up and be saved." "So he got up and was saved"…" and "…preacher preached a wonderful rhythmical sermon, all moans and shouts and lonely cries and dire pictures of hell…" are clear examples of how, though open to interpretation, the author uses sarcasm to ridicule the whole revival. (Ref: paragraphs 6, 3)
Frequent use of small sentences at the beginning and essentially throughout the entire reading gave me an impression of choppiness. With the exception of the word "and", the use of transitional expressions is virtually non-existent in the essay. I also noticed negativism in the portrayal of the way other children "went" to Christ in the church on this narrative. A subtle suggestion to discredit the children' acceptance of Christ results from pressure pressed by the adults is shown in the clause "And the little girls cried. And some of them jumped up and went to Jesus right away."
Aside from the thesis, there are other individual facts that are not stated but implied in this essay, for instance: What kind of people is in this church? Are they upper class, middle, working class? Are they mostly White, Black, Hispanic, Asian? It could be assumed that at least most of these church goers were working class black people. The author apparently wanted the audience to know this; thus the description "old women with jet-black faces and braided hair, old men with work-gnarled hands" is mentioned in the essay. Basically, the implication is that these events took place in a "typical" black Christian church. (Paragraph 4)
In paragraph five, the meaning of the statement by Langston when he says: "Still I kept waiting to he see Jesus" could probably be a basis for debate of interpretations. However, I believe this is a case of figure of speech which really translates into waiting to "feel" Jesus rather than actually physically seeing him. This is supported in the essay by a reference to comments by Langston's aunt and other "old people"; "…when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside...you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul." (Paragraph 2)
At the end, on the last paragraph, is where the thesis is presented. This is a part of the essay that did not feel real to me maybe because of the choice of words in contrast with the rest of the essay. The message the author is trying to convey comes across too dramatic and abrupt when he says "…and that now I didn't believe there was a Jesus any more, since he didn't come to help me." The word "help" seemed to over dramatize the moment because there was no prior indication the young Langston needed Jesus to come "help" him. The most Langston said was "I wanted something to happen to me, but nothing happened."
I guess this essay is one example that takes one back to memory lane. A similar situation happened to me at around the same age as Langston. I asked Jesus to "show" himself to me, and when he didn't, I just felt I must have not been "ready" for him yet. I remember thinking that even though I had "accepted Jesus as my savior", maybe I was still not really "cleansed" from sin and therefore not quite worthy of experiencing the Holy Spirit. I would always stand there in church, my eyes closed and tears flowing down asking God to please come to my heart and "free" me from myself but it never happened; it was exhausting.
In conclusion, the most supported implied thesis in the "Salvation" essay is simply that adults' pressures onto children to accept a certain religion or believe, when the children are not ready, may cause negative lasting effects that end up been carried to adulthood. What I mainly perceived was a means by the author to get even with those "misguided" adults nevertheless not "oozing on sentimentality". And finally, the essay could have been written in a way that would provide a little more explanation or definition as to why the church members do what they do. Instead, a reader not acquainted with the concept of religious revivals may not fully comprehend Hughes' narrative; then again, the bible has already been written for such explanations.