Discussion of “Salvation” by L.Hughes & “The Letter from Birmingham Jail” by M. L.King Jr

Reading of non-fiction pieces could be of the same great impact upon the audience, as fiction narrations, under the condition that the author develops interesting themes and is able to involve the readers into considerations and discussions of these themes. There are a lot of bright examples of non-fiction narrations, where the authors managed to be persuasive and informative enough to impact the readers. Salvation by Langston Hughes, as a kind of autobiographic writing, devoted to universally controversial themes, and The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. expressing the profound ideas of the author regarding one of the most acute social problems, are great examples of non-fiction writings, attracting readers of various generations.

Salvation in its general meaning is usually understood as delivering from human sins and their consequences. In the Christianity individuals accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior and they believe that he will help them to overcome their sins. Salvation is associated with “saving” in this case, but only in physical, also in mental or spiritual sense. Langston Hughes wrote his memoir The Big Sea and called the third chapter of it Salvation. This part is devoted to the author’s childhood and his experience as a Christian. Writing about the meaning of the religious services and adherence to the corresponding rules of the church, the author does not attempt to focus on the religious aspects, rather he uses symbolism in order to related the Christian doctrine to the issues of human race and collectivity. Most of the individuals, who take part in those revival meetings, were from the African-American community and Hughes wrote: “Several old individuals came near us and took on to their knees and prayed,” (Hughes, 2008, p. 31). The revival procedure took place at night time, when it was dark and this is the symbol of the humans, looking for the light and their intention to get out of the darkness of their sinful lives. Special attention is paid by the author to the children, who are referred to as lambs – “to bring the young lambs to the fold.” (Hughes, 2008, p. 31). The author’s personal interpretation of the concept of salvation is very interesting, as it is not simply related to depriving of sins and their consequences, rather Hughes build the connection between the salvation and the assimilation of the African-American community into the white community. He uses his symbolism in order to convey his idea of the collectiveness “The entire flock prayed for me , in a huge moan of sighs and singings.” (Hughes, 2008, p. 32). The author himself did not convert into Christianity, instead he developed atheism ideas, he writes about this “and that now I didn’t believe there was a Jesus anymore” (Hughes, 2008, p. 32).

The Letter from Birmingham Jail is an open letter, written in April 1963 by Martin Luther Kind Jr. This letter became an important historical document in the history of anti-racism and for the American Civil Rights Movement. The author underlined his major idea of the nonviolent resistance to racism and the fact of moral responsibility of individuals for the introduction and support of unfair and unjust laws in their communities. Kind wrote about this “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (King, 1963, p. 35). The letter of King is rather strong and persuasive, in order to understand his concept of justice, it is important to follow his distinction between unjust laws and his attitude to the church, which had disappointed him. King posed a simple question “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” and further he argued “There are two different types of laws just and unjust.” (King, 1963, p. 40). King wanted to convince the readers that just laws are those, which are interrelated with moral laws and they should not damage human personalities and distort their souls. King considered the application of the same laws to different categories of the community members, especially the minorities. His profound disappointment with the church could be explained by his inability to understand, why it failed to teach the members of the church that the segregation laws were nothing, but evil for their society. He explains that he is not simply one of the critics of the church in general, rather he expected the church to be the strongest allies for protecting humans and their freedom movement, and this was not the case.

Both writings belong to non-fiction and remain important historical documents and bright examples of the fresh and innovative approaches to the social relations, developed by the authors. The authors were able to find the strong and appealing arguments in order to make their readers focus upon their major ideas and convince the readers to reconsider their own attitude towards social injustice, segregation in the society. Generally non-fiction is defined as “writing or cinema that is about facts and real event.” (King, 1963, p.44). Salvation by Langston Hughes and The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. did not present any imagined worlds or events by the authors, rather were the reflections of the real life events. Each of the authors had to use symbols in order to make the text more persuasive, but still the writings do not belong to fiction. To some extent the positions of the authors could be considered unconventional for their societies, but this did not force them to leave their ideas and their struggle for them for the sake of their societies and future generations, living in a different country and community.

References:

Hughes, Langston. (2008). “The Big Sea: An Autobiography”. New York: Paw Prints

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1963). Letter from Birmingham Jail. Stanford, California: The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]
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