On the Road

Reading On the Road by Langston Hughes from a cultural perspective offers new insights about how alienation and loneliness challenge our humanity. This story was written during the great depression and explained how overwhelming social and cultural problems set the barrier for the Blacks in the American society and prevented their integration with the rest of the mainstream American society due to their race and social class. The story uses the church as the microcosm and one of the institutions though supposed to offer unity and advocate humanity acts as barriers and an agent of oppression and discrimination of the minority in the society. Hughes shows how society alienates the poor and people of color challenges the humanity with which human beings exist and claim to uphold.

On the Road reflects the life of Sargeant who is black and homeless and is desperate for food and shelter due to the hunger of the great depression of 1930,s which is the period for the setting of the story. In desperation, the sergeant decides to go the church where he belies that being a religious institution he would get the necessary help and refuge. He is surprised too when he gets no help from the church because of his color. Most of the members of the church are the white; hence the church belongs to the white, who are not much affected by the great depression as compared to the blacks. He feels discriminated and alienated by the society which he belongs. It’s surprising how the community even the institutions that we expect to uphold humanity and bring unity to propagate discrimination based on color. Hughes says ‘helpless, stupid, scattered, and one as now/race against race/because one is black/ another one is white’. Hughes pleads that our differences in color should not be the reason why we should not show humanity.

When the Surgeon is seen by the white people in the street entering the church, they start coughing and shouting at him. He tells them that he is looking for a shelter. Again, he nocks the door, and no one opens until he is forced to exert his weight on it and it opens. Immediately two white policemen come to arrest him. This indicates how the poor people and particularly the poor are alienated by the rest of the society and are not supposed to enter into the social gatherings o the white people. This is a challenge to our humanity. Humanity dictates that we should embrace love and unity. Later in the play, Hughes states ‘ let us become instead/one single hand/that can help united rise. He uses this to address the whites who considered the blacks as the people o a lesser god and advocates or unity o all, embracing humanity.

In this story, the society does not accept the poor and mistreats them. When the police came after Sargeant tried to break to the church, which was not a criminal offense for he was not a slave and had right like any other American to get to access the church and get helped, he is thoroughly beaten by the police,The police are beating him just because he has entered into a place which is reserved for the white population and not for the.through this racism, the sergeant feels alienated. The society has disowned him. He is taken to prison, where he should belong according to the community. Still, at the prison he is beaten by the cop and forced to silence. He wakes up and feels cold, wet and bruised. This indicates how torturing and cruel society. He exclaims ‘I will break down the prison door too.’In Return, the cop tells him to shut up, and beats him. The implication of this is how those who are alienated and discriminated try to break this chain, and free themselves up, but the society is unwilling to accept them back and make them one of their own.

In conclusion, how the theme if alienation and loneliness challenge, our humanity is well developed in the story of On the Road by Langston Hughes. The society has alienated and isolated the blacks particularly the poor.  Throughout the novel, surgent plays role of the poor black Americans that are divided and molested by their society due to their color and social class,.This challenges our humanity because as the human being, we should uphold love and unity, irrespective of class and race.