The Ways of White Folks

The Ways of White Folks

by Langston Hughes

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In these acrid and poignant stories, Hughes depicted black people colliding--sometimes humorously, more often tragically--with whites in the 1920s and '30s.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307806574
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2011
Series: Vintage Classics
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 39,170
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Langston Hughes (1902–1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri. Often regarded as "the poet laureate of Harlem," Hughes was a cental figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. He earned his bachelor's from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he was later presented with an honorary Doctorate of Letters. Over the course of his life, Hughes was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rosenwald Fellowship, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters grant.Known for his insightful, colorful portayals of black life in America from the 1920s to the 1960s, Hughes published more than 35 books of poetry, fiction, short stories, children's poetry, musicals, operas, autobiography, scripts, and essays. He was a devoted fan of jazz and blues, fusing the two genres with traditional verse in his first two books, The Weary Blues and Fine Clothes to the Jew. He was also well known for his creation of the fictional character Jess B. Semple, nicknamed Simple, who satrized racial injustices.Through his work condeming racism and celebrating African-American culture, Langston Hughes becaomse one of the most influential and esteemed writers of the twentieth century.

Table of Contents

1Cora Unashamed3
2Slave on the Block19
5A Good Job Gone57
6Rejuvenation Through Joy69
7The Blues I'm Playing99
8Red-Headed Baby125
9Poor Little Black Fellow133
10Little Dog161
12Mother and Child189
13One Christmas Eve199
14Father and Son207

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The Ways of White Folks 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The ways of white folks, I mean some white folks, is too much for me. I reckon they must be a few good ones, but most of 'em ain't good -- leastwise they don't treat me good. And Lawd knows, I ain't never done nothin' to 'em, nothin' a-tall." (From Berry, p. 181)This slim volume of fourteen stories explores the myriad of ways in which white people in America demonstrate prejudice against blacks. Published in 1933, most of the stories take place in that time period, and are set in either New York City or the rural South. In some the racism is overt and violent (think lynchings), but prejudice can be subtle as well. Take, for example, the maid whose family keeps her waiting on Christmas Eve and then is unable to pay her full wages, never thinking of the impact this has on the maid and her young son. Or the single woman living alone, who is so confused and conflicted by her feelings for the black janitor in her apartment building, that she is compelled to move.There were no happy endings here. Even the stories that satirize whites made me squirm more than smile. In fact, I was able to read no more than 3 stories in a single sitting, and was glad I had other reading material close at hand. Hughes writes well; the intensity was just hard to take. And after a while, it even began to feel a bit repetitious. The situations and characters were different, but the behaviors and outcomes were similar: black characters were subservient, whites were either oblivious or overtly racist, and things always ended badly. Readers may want to choose just a few stories to get the essence of this work; in fact, the first three are representative:- Cora Unashamed: a woman who has worked for a white family all her life. She is treated somewhat respectfully, until she begins to speak out about a family member's pregnancy.- Slave on a Block: profiles a white couple who "went in for Negroes ... a race that was already too charming and naïve and lovely for words." This story was the most squirm-inducing for me.- Home: a young violinist returns to Missouri after several years in Europe, and encounters prejudice he had not experienced abroad. The ending is intense and difficult.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Great collection short stories that highlights the painful relationships between Blacks and White. Hughes masterfully captures the essence of it all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding! Some of Langston Hughes most insightful and best writing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book! It takes me a long time to read a book, but I read this one quickly. I loved the story regarding the white woman who was sexually attracted to her black neighbor. Collected short stories which brings one right into the scenes. Vivid!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I've read this book and here I am trying to attain it once more. The way Mr. Hughes writes; so vivid and real. It's almost as if you, yourself were living in 30's Harlem, standing right next to the characters as they experience every day of life and discover the boundless wonders and autrocities that thrived in 1930's America. A great collection.