Analysis of Langston Hughes “CROSS”


Langston Hughes poem entitle ‘cross’ is a one stanza poem with a title that carries a deep and rich meaning and one that perfectly reflects the overall theme. The author has used a first person persona to pass the message to the reader (Bloom 20). This paper intends to identify the identity of the author, and explore on the key figure of speech and the overall theme that is being discussed in the poem.

The persona

The persona is this poem represents a son who is born by a white father and a black mother. He is full of anger because he has been brought up in a mixed heritage, which consists of a two races which are absolutely different. Although the persona regrets later for disapproving his parents for having sired him in different racial communities, his anger seems to be strongly inflicted by issues of racial discrimination (Bloom 20).

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Use of Metaphor

The title of the poem (the cross) has a deep and rich meaning. The significance of this title reflects the main theme that was intended by the author. There are scores of meanings that can be attached to the word ‘cross’ used as the title.

The persona is very dissatisfied and angry for the reason that his heritage is torn between two ends. At first, he vents this anger towards his parents, only to regret his actions later. Cross has been used metaphorically to portray this anger and dissatisfaction.

The persona’s mixed heritage has indeed put him in a testing moment that can be described as a burden. This burden is represented by cross, to emphasize suffering. The persona’s predicament can also be compared to crucifixion of Jesus Christ who was tried with no wrong doing. Similarly, the persona is suffering for being brought up in a mixed heritage even though it is not his fault.

Apparently, the persona crosses over from being angry and offensive, to adopt a forgiving character. This transformation perfectly gives the word ‘cross’ another meaning. Finally, after making over and forgiving his parents, the persona is torn between uncertainty fates. He wonders whether he will die a bi-racial. In other words, he is left in a cross road (Juhasz 56)

The overall theme

The poem is generally discussing issues of racial heritage. The speaker is particularly perturbed for being born in a mixed heritage- having a black mother and a white father. Indeed, the speaker is full of grief and frustrations for belonging to a mixed heritage. He is reported as regretting having hated and disapproved his parents for being responsible for the purported regrettable fate.

The deep feelings exhibited by the persona reflect the significance of racial heritage, and in addition, portrays some degree of disconnection between the black and the white. Perhaps, the persona was born during the age of slave trade, when Africans were being enslaved in America resulting to bi-racial heritage.

The anger that the persona vents originates from the negative feelings of slavery. In addition, the persona is reported saying that his father died a wealthy man while his mother died poor woman, perhaps to portray the manner in which the white were using the black to enrich themselves. In essence, discrimination of one race against the other must have contributed towards the persona’s offensive attitude towards a mixed heritage (Bennett 16)


The anther’s use of metaphor has really attracted my attention, and encourages me to think critically about the issues being discussed in the poem, and as such, understanding the themes in a deeper and clearer manner.

The figure of speech has made me to emphasis with the speaker who is in great turmoil, as I imagined his predicament. Overall, the author has successively used the speaker to pass on his rich message to the reader (Bennett 16)

Works cited

Bennett, Sandra. Identifying themes and poetic devices in selected poems. Utah: University of Utah, 1972. 16. Print

Bloom, Harold. Langston Hughes. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007. 20. Print

Juhasz, Suzanne. Metaphor and the poetry of Williams, Pound, and Stevens. London: Associated University Presse, 1974. 56. Print


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