“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorn and Langston Hughes’s essay “Salvation”

Published: 2021-07-06 06:47:05
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The short story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorn and Langston Hughes’s essay “Salvation” may seem different but offer a similar context. Both stories present the crisis of faith, which all individuals face at some point in their lives.In “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorn takes the reader into the Puritan Society of New England. It is a story of a man, who descends into a nightmare, in which he travels deep into a dark forest. During his journey into the forest, he sees people from his community, including his wife Faith, partaking in a satanic ritual, which is being presided by the Devil Himself. As Goodman Brown journeys into the deep forest, he learns how society paints itself with purity but is deep down, rusted with immorality and corruption.The use of “Young” in the title of Hawthorn’s story reflects the social perception of youth as innocent, free from sin and moral decay. Brown takes the “dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest,” and it becomes a symbol of his loss of innocence. He is confronted with the immoralities of his society men, including his wife. He breaks away from the last thread of innocence and his faith in religion when he sees Faith take part in the forest ritual.His proclamation, “My Faith is gone!” pictures his angst at the immoral reality of this world, the crisis of faith and his transition into a world of adulthood. This paints the truth of one’s nature, which is tied to one’s community and social expectations (Mays). Goodman comes to learn that under the mask of faith, morals, and purity, all people are trying to hide their sinful and immoral disposition. In the end, he becomes “a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man.”The similar crisis and loss of faith have been depicted by Langston Hughes in his essay, Salvation.” Hughes narrates an event from his childhood when he was twelve years old. He talks of a big revival, which took place at his Auntie Reed’s church, where its members partook in praying so that all sinners could be brought back to Jesus Christ. Afterward, a special meeting was conducted for children “to bring the young lambs to the fold.”However, during that night, Hughes narrates that he lost his faith in Jesus. This can simply be attributed to his Auntie Reed who tells him that “when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside! And Jesus came into your life! And God was with you from then on!” Being a young boy, Langston takes his Auntie’s statements literally, and when he doesn’t experience any such things, he begins to lose his faith in Jesus.His disappointment only worsens when Westley stands up to be saved despite not experiencing Jesus. Langston knows that his friend was lying but hasn’t suffered for his sins. Langston feels ashamed of having everyone waiting for him to walk up to the platform, so he decides to lie for the sake of his elders and pretends to be saved by Jesus. Later that night, he cried because he had deceived everybody in the church. In the end, he claims that “I didn’t believe there was a Jesus anymore since he didn’t come to help me.”Hughes loss of faith and transition into uncertainty can be blamed upon his Auntie who didn’t realize how religious metaphors can shape her nephew’s mind. Thus, it can be seen once again that the essence of one’s nature is linked with the society one lives in. Different aspects of this society play a role in the transition of individuals and can lead some to lose their faith or their innocence.Works CitedMays, Kelly J. The Norton introduction to literature. WW Norton & Company, 2015.

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