Essay on Salvation written by Langston Hughes and On Going Home written by Joan Didion

It is known that nonfiction literature takes a special place in the world literature because nonfiction stories are concerned with true events. Many readers prefer to read nonfiction stories as they do not believe in wizards and magic. Such short stories as Salvation written by Langston Hughes and On Going Home written by Joan Didion are considered to be nonfiction stories because they lack fiction. As a rule, nonfiction literature is focused on the real facts and opinions, but not on imagination. Many nonfiction stories discuss politics, science, history or biographies. My goal in this paper is to represent the detailed reactions to each of the above mentioned nonfiction stories.

In the short story Salvation, Langston Hughes, a well-known American poet and novelist, discusses the role of religion in the life of an individual. The author of the literary work is ready to describe his own experience of being “saved”¯ which leads to disappointmentĀ Ā  in himself. In other words, this fact results in the use of lie to the church and in the author’s feeling of guilt for his behavior and actions. Besides, the so-called “saving”¯ of Langston Hughes leads to his loss of faith in God, Christianity and Jesus Christ. This short story shows the readers how the adult’s pressure on a child can cause damage to the infant’s mind which is not aware of the significance of this situation.

As Langston Hughes’s short story Salvation can be regarded as a part of his autobiography, it is possible to conclude that he wanted to share his experience with others. In the adult age, he is ready to fully understand the event that took place in his life several decades ago. His major goal is to express his feelings and emotions, but not to criticize his aunt and other people in the congregation. He tries to explain the gap between generations and how they are different in their way of understanding certain concepts. Hughes and his aunt have difference thoughts concerning the meaning of the word “salvation”¯. Langston Hughes writes: “And I kept waiting serenely for Jesus, waiting, waiting – but he didn’t come”¯ (Hughes, 2004, p.196). Langston Hughes, as the representative of the younger generation, had a great desire to see Jesus Christ and was waiting for his arrival. However, his aunt, as a representative of the older generation, had different thoughts. She said that Langston was crying “because the Holy Ghost had come into his life, and because he had seen Jesus”¯ (Hughes, 2004, p.196).

In order to covey the theme and idea of the work, the author uses such literary strategies as metaphors, epithets, repetition, rhetorical questions, etc. He pays special attention to the use of verbs in the story. Moreover, the majority of sentences in Langston Hughes’s story are simple. It gives an opportunity to the readers to better understand the text.

My personal relation to the theme of the short story Salvation is positive. I think that the author discusses very important things in the life of any individual ”“ the use of lie that leads to disappointment and lack of faith and the theme of salvation. The boy who did not realize the importance of faith in his life, decided to lie in the church, but at home he began to cry because of his wrong actions and behavior. To my mind, the major goal of the author is to prove the fact that lying is wrong.

In the short story On Going Home, Joan Didion, a well-known American novelist and essayist, discusses the theme of family bonds and the role of home in the life of any individual. She begins her short story by discussing the meaning of home for her. She writes: “by “home” I do not mean the house in Los Angeles where my husband and I and the baby live, but the place where my family is, in the Central Valley of California”¯ (Didion, 1988, p.76). The author is troubled by the differences between these places. In the essay On Going Home, Joan Didion discusses her relations with her husband who feels “uneasy”¯ in her family’s home. She wants her readers to think about the role of home and family. In this essay, the author recreates the feeling an individual gets when he or she visits a place from the past and reminisces the fondest memories. These memories are marked by the reflective thoughts concerning the ability to pass this sense to another person.

The author uses many literary techniques in order to make her speech impressive. There are many metaphors, epithets, comparisons, rhetorical questions, etc. For example, Joan Didion pays special attention to the use of epithets: “difficult, oblique, deliberately inarticulate”¯ ways, “dusty houses”¯, “amateurtopless contest”¯, “romantic degradation”¯, “dark journey”¯, etc. Moreover, she uses a number of descriptions in her essay which represents the flow of events. In this case, the flow of events is similar to the memories that rush back when a person returns to the familiar place from his or her old life. Those people, who have never experienced such phenomena, will not understand the main idea of the author.

My personal relation to the main themes discussed in essay On Going Home is positive. I think that home is a vital place for any individual. It is very important to honor your home. Although Joan Didion states “those of us who are now in our thirties were born into the last generation to carry the burden of “home”¯, to find in family life the source of all tension and drama”¯ (p.76), I am sure that both home and family are the most important things in the life of any individual, no matter how old he or she is. In the essay, Joan Didion states that “marriage is the classic betrayal”¯ (p.77). She refers to her husband’s inability “to comprehend the world she came from and that world’s indifference to him”¯ (Houston & Lombardi, 2009, p.)

To sum up, both stories discussed in this paper are nonfiction literary works, because they lack fiction. I think that imagination is required for writing and reading nonfiction literature, because both Langston Hughes and Joan Didion use not only their personal experience and biographical facts in their stories, but also they use imagination. Hughes used lie and Didion used imagination when she described her family home.

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