Hughes was writing at a time when many white Americans viewed African Americans as sub-human, or at least secondary in terms of cultural importance. How does "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" respond to that idea?
By linking his ancestry to the great rivers of civilization, the "Negro" speaker refutes the idea that he and his race are a lesser form of humanity. The area around the Euphrates is commonly seen as the cradle of civilization, and the speaker states that he (through the connection of his ancestors) bathed in that river. People like him have been present since the beginning of time. He next references the Congo and the Nile, which are located in Africa and relate to...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1554 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10607 literature essays, 2669 sample college application essays, 583 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.