Langston Hughes was a crucial figure in the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, which blossomed black intellectual, literary, and creative life in several American cities, particularly Harlem. In the times of the Spanish Civil War, he was a press correspondent. This encounter made a mark on his writing, particularly in his poetry, illuminating important advances in his understanding of race, gender, and identity. Hughes’ acceptance of the multiplicity of female role models and his commitment to inclusivity scarcely seem to belong in a body of poetry about Spain. Using a critical evaluation of the ethnic, class, and gender distinctions, Fernández-Alonso and Barros Del Rio, in their article (2022), analyze the poetic portrayal of female characters attending to various types of inclusion and exclusion. In addition, Hughes’ poetic construction of the African American female will is evaluated in relation to their relationship to later events, and the peculiarity of particular characters in the Spanish corpus is looked at.
In fact, the research demonstrated that Hughes’ body of poetry, which was influenced by the Spanish Civil War, has peculiar elements that merit additional examination. Female protagonists in poetry were uncommon and sometimes incidental in the extremely masculinized milieu of the war. The literary devices used, such as the usage of voices, character descriptions, and the everyday situations that go along with them, demonstrate a clear separation of the sexes’ domains and are compatible with an exclusionary practice that endures throughout the struggle (Fernández-Alonso & Barros Del Rio, 2022). As the authors promptly noted, “Hughes succeeded in projecting the Spanish Civil War, giving the domestic war an international flavor” (Fernández-Alonso & Barros Del Rio, 2022, p. 677). Hughes’ feminine cosmos reflects his international aspirations in “Boy” and “Note from Spain.” The successful geographic migration of female characters in war settings and their qualitative gender-racial development are two of this corpus of Hughes’ major accomplishments. The poet underlines the universality of female enslavement during the war with her metaphorical sisterhood and is able to depict the many positions that women from both continents may relate to.
The major goals of Langston Hughes’ poems on the Spanish Civil War were to describe the military conflict, to observe the involvement of African American volunteers in combat, and to attempt to associate the African American people with the Loyalist values. The poet’s personal experience throughout the battle had a profound impact, and the writers’ meticulous investigation via a gender lens exposes the existence of a diversified female cosmos obscured by the setting of the war (Fernández-Alonso & Barros Del Rio, 2022). In the example offered by the writers, it is claimed that there was already a trend to create stronger and more autonomous female characters in the war-related poems “Mother and Child” and “The Boy,” who would later evolve into stronger female voices in his output (Fernández-Alonso & Barros Del Rio, 2022). As a result, race has a significant impact on how people view the female, who has greater creative freedom in the American version and may be seen as a model for the strongest female characters in his works.
The study’s overarching objective, as well as the authors’ results, were to show how important and underappreciated this corpus is to comprehend Hughes’ female corpus as a whole. By presenting the excluded component of Hughes’ body of work, the writers mainly succeeded in achieving these objectives. The usage of gender lenses was also a beneficial decision since it provided a new perspective on Hughes’ poetry.
Fernández-Alonso, A., & Barros-Del Río, M. A. (2022). Gender and race in Langston Hughes’ poetry of the Spanish Civil War. Journal of Gender Studies, 31(6), 671-683.