Langston Hughes’s piece entitled “Salvation”, for me, was an exquisite example of just how much you can really convey in such a short amount of text. Hughes’s essay starts of with short and decisive sentences almost as if he wants to pull you back in time, with his words, and have you hear the essay from the mouth of a twelve year old child. The short sentences really set the stage for great narration and quickly begin to fashion an experience, within a tale, that I imagine nearly every person on earth can relate to.
Within this essay, Langston tackles many subjects head on that I think many people would be hesitant to write about.
Religion has always been a controversial subject on earth due perhaps to the vast array of different religions that span our world and its people. I believe that the concept of god is something that is fairly easy to understand, even as a child, for there must be something greater than us. Blind Faith on the other hand is a truly harsh concept to understand, especially, from a child’s perspective. As children we grow and tend to rely on the tangible, that is, things that we can see and feel for ourselves. Faith, though it may be argued by many others, I feel is tangible, but the concept and understanding of it eludes us when we are young. It takes years to develop, our depth of understanding faith, into something we can trust and rely on.
Langston hints at the fact that though he experienced a loss of faith in religion, he was actually “saved”. I feel that this is a truly important piece of information and that it is, most likely, not understood by everyone in the same way. I feel that Langston’s use of the word “saved” , in this context, refers to the fact that through this experience in his life he was saved from the child-like naivety and belief that Jesus would actually appear before him. I think that most people would be able to relate this key point in the story to the belief of Santa Claus or that of the Easter Bunny. I do not mean to say that Jesus is like Santa Claus, I just mean that we experience the same type “of loss of faith” upon hearing or experiencing the truth beyond our childish concept of reality. This experience for me happened as a young child sneaking down to find my mother wrapping and labeling presents as “Santa Claus”.
The truly sad part in all of this is the fact that, due to other peoples faith or belief in religion, a child went home questioning the actual existence of God, and was forced to lose a part of their innocence in the search for understanding. Perhaps he had been “saved” from ignorance but now his faith is cast in doubt. This is demonstrated by the fact that once he was the only one on the bench, waiting for Jesus to appear to him, he felt that he was being forced to adhere to the common practice of following those before him, without question. Perhaps, Jesus really was there, acting and speaking through the pastor and the people in the congregation. However, understanding of this caliber is hard to come by at such a young age and even harder to rationalize, whereas, conforming to those around you to appease a situation is a far easier decision, even if you end up sacrificing a part of yourself or your belief.
I am not sure if my comprehension of this piece is correct, or if anyone else felt the same way after reading it, but this is one of the many points that I gleaned from this essay.