Construction and Fluidity of Identity in Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

    One of the features that has often proliferated -African American Literature is the question of identity; and this is particularly with reference to the experience of blacks who were slaves in America or those descendants of Africans who were taken to America as slaves who are now citizens of America. On this note the question of identity is traditionally realized as a function of the cultural, historical and societal forces that shape the society and this has been the case in a large corpus of texts of African-   American writings. Among other literary writings which have emerged from African-American writers, is the genre of autobiography which is traditionally read as a referent to the “I”, the self in relation to the “Other”. Using some of the tenets of Deconstruction such as violent hierarchy between the self/other, critique of logocentrism, and the play of differánce, this paper offers a close reading of some selected poems of Langston Hughes to explain the fluidity and uncertainty of identity. Identity is fluid because it is not identical with itself but subject to illimitable con-text. Therefore, the ability of the selected poem to be reproduced in different con-text is what gives them identity and, paradoxically, is what put off their identity infinitude. This paper concludes that the question of identity is a matter of an unending interplay between the Self and the Other and vice versa. The struggle with the world enables the individual to discover the whole personality.

    Keywords: Identity, Poetry, Self/Other Dichotomy

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    author/Kehinde, Oluwabukola et al

    journal/Zamfara IJOH Vol. 1 Issue 3