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Analysis: Early Autumn by Langston Hughes

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Early Autumn by Langston Hughes

Analysis:


The short story „Early Autumn“ by the American author Langston Hughes, originated in the year 1963, deals with the coincidental meeting of a former couple and the re-emerging emotions of the heartbroken and desperate female protagonist.

The short story is set some unspecified time after the breakup of the main characters Bill and Mary that have split up for an “not very important” reason (line2). Considering that Bill has two kids with his wife and Mary having three with her husband it can be assumed that multiple years have passed between the break up and the following coincidental meeting in the Washington Square Park at dawn.

Mary gets her ex-boyfriend´s attention by saying his name which is being followed by a short conversation where both Bill and Mary state their current living situation. At the end of the conversation Mary invites Bill to meet her and her family someday which Bill accepts to do. The ex-couple departures as soon as Mary´s bus arrives and the story ends with a thoughtful Mary that has forgotten to give Bill her address to come and meet her in the future.

The story begins with a flashback to the days when Bill and Mary still were a couple. Like the rest of the story this segment is being narrated by an all-knowing storyteller that reflects what is happening, what has happened and what Mary is thinking. This flashback is a short summary that tells the reader that Mary and Bill once been in love until “something not very important had come between them” (lines 2-3) which led to them not talking to one another.

This impulsive break up over something unimportant tells the reader right away that this relationship wasn´t the sturdiest kind of relationship to begin with. The speaker continues to summarize by telling the reader that Mary went on to rashly marry a man “she thought she loved” (line 4) while Bill left, now feeling resentful towards women. This review of the follow up of the break up tells us something about the characterizati.....[read full text]

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This image of many people is one of the two big images in this short story that also function as metaphors which I will detail as we progress. The scenery is further explained as it being “late afternoon”, “nearly sunset” and as “cold” (line22). This description of a dark and cold scenery is a metaphor for the distant relationship between Bill and Mary.

The conversation continues with Bill asking Mary about her husband and with that about her current life situation. Mary answers by stating the same things that Bill has stated before her: She states that she has three children with her husband and that she works in an office. This explanation of Mary´s life situation stands in contrast to Bill´s who depicts himself as a successful family man while Mary seems unsuccessful in her career, probably working as a secretary, and we already know that she doesn´t have a lot of love for her husband.

This contrast makes Bill look like the “winner” of this break up because he went on to live the better life of the two. Bill answers by saying “You´re looking very... well” (line25) but as the speaker tells us that he originally wanted to say that she looks “old” (line 25). This very weak executed compliment that was originally planned as an insult once again shows that Mary has lost all her attractiveness to Bill and seeing how he wanted to tell her that she doesn´t look attractive to her it is most likely that he wants her to know .....[read full text]

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The invitation that Mary makes Bill to meet her and her family might be considered as an approach to get back nearer to Bill. Bill accepts this invitation and says that “Lucille and [he´d] love to have [her]” (line 32). That he immediately brings in his family into this invitation makes clear that he is very proud and happy of his family and his wife Lucille, which he explicitly names.

He might have taken this invitation for two different reasons: the first one being that he did it just to be polite. He didn´t wanted to be rude and hurt Mary´s feeling by refusing Mary´s invitation even though he didn´t wanted to visit her in the first place which is clearer when he doesn´t give her his address nor asking for her one.

But that she forgets to swap their addresses might also been an unfortunate accident. The other reason he might have taken the invitation might be because he wanted to show his family and his luxurious lifestyle as a successful lawyer which is being underlined by the fact that he wants Mary to visit his home even though Mary has invited hi.....[read full text]

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