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In the first sentence of Langston Hughes’ �On the Road,” we are told, �He was not interested in the snow.” It is only logical and even natural that when people are more concerned with issues of survival, external conditions become trivial and even insignificant. The statement �Sargeant never even saw the snow,” indicates a preoccupation with issues of survival, more reflective of life. The use of the term �freight” suggests movement in speed, traveling down a track to a questionable place and point in time that serves to emphasize the uncertainty that exist in the struggle for racial equity at the time.


Hughes use of the sentence, �But he must have felt it seeping down his neck, cold, wet, sopping in his shoes,” communicates total helplessness and a sense of depression in the condition of the man who is oblivious to the surrounding and cannot see the white snow even under the bright lights. As Sargeant walks down the main street, we are forced to ask the question, �main street of whose life?”


With the introduction of the Rev. Mr. Dorset as someone who �saw the snow when he switched on his light” we become aware that he, Dorset, unlike Sargeant is in a place where he belonged and his conditions are probably the opposite of Sargeant’s. Using, Rev. and Mr. in the same title encourages us to believe Dorset, �DOOR SET,” was a holier-than-thou character who contemptuously viewed Sargeant as �obviously unemployed,” and an unwelcome nuisance in the order of things.


Although we are never directly introduced to the emotional misery of Sargeant, we can sense his helplessness in his lack of opportunity to express self when the door is shut in his face after a resounding no. The attitude of the ‘have’ to the ‘have-not’ is clearly illustrated here where Sargeant’s existence is reduced to that of a mere shadow, a man whose reality is questionable, �maybe he sensed the cold and wet snow now sticking to his jaws.”


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In the flicker of an instant, we see the sparkle of hope that still lingers in his soul when Sargeant spies the two doors of the church. Two signifying a doubling of the opportunity that he seeks, instead of one door that was recently slammed shut in his face.


To Sargeant the church represents the only hope that may exist. He uses his black body as a tool while making ‘animal-like’ sounds, and in so doing life’s black prisoner pushes against the doors of opportunity. As the blackness of his humanity earns a breakthrough with the cracking and squeaking of the door giving way, �two white cops arrive in a car, ran up the steps with their clubs, and grabbed Sargeant.” Reinforcing the l idea of hopelessness for blacks in 15 America, this highlights the way the system in the Negro’s life seemed to be perfectly time to halt any progress that he makes. Moreover, when all the white people come together to tear him away from the foundation of his survival he clings to the pillars in the house of God that may serve as his only hope.





While we are witnesses to the liberation of a statue that was held in captivity for two thousand years, the oppressive conditions of the Negro, Sargeant, life continues. Not even Christ could help the plight of the Negro, since Christ has become a prisoner waiting to be freed from the pinnacles of the white man’s religiosity, �you had to pull the church down to get me off the cross.”


The only places Sargeant is welcome are those without doors and while Christ takes a trip to exercise his freedom we see Sargeant’s trancelike recognition that he is simply a prisoner dreaming about freedom and wondering whether Christ can help.


The dreamlike quality of the story serves to question our interpretation of the Negro’s condition and the importance of time, place, and, social issues on either sides of the black and white color line.





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