Black Boys, Black Men, and Hardship in Poems and Short Stories

Pages: 1
Words: 388


Hayden, Robert. “The Whipping.”

This poem is about, as the title suggests, the whipping of a little boy by his mother, assumingly, or perhaps other female relative. Violently and relentlessly, she strikes him again and again, seemingly habitually, as the narrator hides away from the cries. Hayden refers to the woman feeling “avenged in part for lifelong hidings” after the whipping, suggesting that she might have grown up in an abusive environment herself. The poem reflects Hayden’s own experience of abuse in the context of the African American community as well as his personal life.

Hughes, Langston. “I, Too.”

This poem is about the discrimination against the “darker brother[s]” in America, and the oppression African Americans experience on the daily basis. Hughes uses the metaphor of a dinner party to convey that soon, or “tomorrow,” he, too, will “be at the table” – meaning he will unapologetically be a part of the society.

Angelou, Maya. “Caged Bird.”

This poem is about two birds, one caged and one free, and the different experiences they have in the world. It is a metaphor for the experience of the “caged” oppressed Americans that do not have the same opportunities in life. It represents the struggles Black communities have to endure and the longing for freedom over their lives that they have.

Short stories

Jones, Edward P. “Young Lions.” Lost in the City. William Morrow and Company, 1992.

This story is about a professional criminal called Caesar Matthews and his daily routines. His life as a small-scale mugger appears to be relatively average, and although he is still young, he appears to be tired of everything and everyone. Instead of enjoying his life, his partner Carol, or any other activities, he goes through life without joy. It’s revealed that his mother died when he was 17, and it is perhaps an ominous representation of an average fate of someone from the African American community.

Jones, Edward P. “Old Boys, Old Girls.” All Aunt Hagar’s Children. Amistad, 2006.

This story is about Caesar Matthews, at the time of this piece a two-time murderer. Most of the piece describes his experience in prison, with numerous metaphors throughout the text. The prominent theme is that of the need for the new order in the country, one that fixes the broken system that exists now.