When I read the title and author I was instantly excited because I am familiar with Hughes work! The title Harlem automatically triggered images of the Harlem Renaissance for some reason. I still had to re- read the poem three times to get an idea of the meaning. When I think about the different types of critical approaches I learned this week I get a little flustered. The fluster comes from trying to figure out two that could be used to analyze the poem.
The two approaches I came up with are Historicism and Marxist. If I apply historicism I would assume the author is bias about oppression based on his background. The poem is based on oppression after World War II. Harlem also is about the bad experience of racism and hate African American experienced. For historicism I would focus on the following quote; “Does it dry up, / like a raisin in the sun, / or fester like a sore” (Hughes 2-4). Those lines from the poem reflects hard times post the Harlem Renaissance time period. Marxist approach wouldn’t change the theme of the poem because the title reflects struggles of oppressed people and oppressing situations. History has provided the information on the unfair treatment and poor conditions African Americans endured. The following quote from the poem screams oppression; “Maybe it just sags, / like a heavy load” (Hughes 9-10). Picking between the two approaches I feel like Marxist seems more suited for the poem. The class conflict and Hughes’s analysis fits well under this approach. You can tell he was affected by the racism and negative situations that occurred during that time period. The tone of this poem is deep but lets you know there’s pain inside.
Muller, Gilbert H. and John A. Williams. “Reading and Responding to Literature and Film.” ENGL 200: Composition and Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 2-18. Web. 12 August 2011.