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The Ways of White Folks - "father and Son"

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The Ways of White Folks

"Father and Son"


Foreshadowing is merely clues given to the reader of a story's ending. Within the story "Father and Son" by Langston Hughes, I believe the whole story to be a series of foreshadowing of the tragic and somewhat unexpected ending. Throughout the story Hughes uses simple but quite important details for the reader's analyzation. Even the story's setting, Georgia, was a dead giveaway of what to expect from the story. Georgia was a state in which obtained many large plantations, Jim Crow Laws, and was of large importance to the slave trade and labor. By the story taking place on a hot summer day on a plantation in Georgia, I knew the ending wasn't going to be pleasant; at least not with the mentality Bert had, the mentality, "not to be a white folks' nigger" (228). From early on the author warned us about Bert being troublesome. News on the plantation was "the boy was too smart" (210), "Bert had a temper and ways like white folks, too" (222). The fact that Bert didn't listen to the white men at an early age even his father paved the way for the future conflict between these two major characters. When the Colonel made eye contact with Bert for the first time in about seven years "a certain vibration shook him from head to toe", "his shoulders lifted and went back as though faced by an indignity [injury to one's self esteem] just suffered" (212). The events of the day were mere examples of the tension between the father and son, the events that gave us as reader's clues as to how the story was going to end. They served as building blocks for the story's bitter ending and illustrated examples of both the character's conflict with each other.


Many say the very traits you find fault with in others are the very traits you may possess. Throughout the story we are exposed to different kinds of irony, such as situational, dramatic, and cosmic. Colonel Norwood disliked Bert, but Bert was just like him. Bert was, "handsome and mischievous favoring too much likes the Colonel in look and ways" (208).

When Bert was confronted by Colonel Norwood, "Bert stood silent and red in front of his father, looking as the Colonel must have looked forty years ago- except that he was a shade darker" (231). It's quite ironic how a few years back the Colonel was the one standing over Bert tall, strong, and powerful, but now it was Bert that was in control of the situation, a half black man, known to be his son. From the very start we were told about the very troublesome relationship between Bert and his father, and may have hoped that they would patch up the rough areas in their relationship and call a truce. To our understanding



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