In "Salvation," written in 1940, Langston Hughes shares his early experience in the realm of religion. Hughes visits a big revival at his Auntie Reed's church where he was saved from sin. However, the little boy fails to actually be saved and his expectation turns out to be a disappointment at the end of the story. His experience is not about being converted to Christianity-instead the story explicates about negative effects that result from the pressure of a social norm. Sharing the story of seeking and eventually losing faith, Hughes does not focus on condemning Christianity. I found three different reactions and sentiments of young Hughes in reading the essay. The initial excitement is discussed when he positively describes about the revival meeting and how he hoped in meeting Jesus. Then his anxiety is portrayed when he feels the pressure as he is left last, separated from the other kids who walked up to the altar. Eventually, Hughes decides to join the crowd but he is left feeling lost and burdened. He did not act this way because he saw the light, Jesus; instead, the pressure of the congregation bent his will. The essay clearly describes about his inner conflict in choosing a behavior that everyone favors over one's true will. In the end, I found that a social norm and its pressure caused Hughes to be damaged spiritually and emotionally. .
Hughes begins by telling us that he "was saved from sin" (Hughes 656) when he was going on thirteen. In the opening paragraphs, he vividly describes about the big revival at his Auntie Reed's church. His descriptions are not negative towards the Christian church or the actions of "preaching, singing, praying and shouting" (Hughes 656). Instead he hopes in Auntie Reed's words, such as "when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside!" (Hughes 656). I can sense the writer's excitement, hope and expectations of wanting to be saved.