Language

The language that Langston Hughes uses in the poem “Ballad of the Landlord” is contemporary with the poet and reflects the style of the time. 

In the first five stanzas, the poet introduces the African-American dialect which gives the poem a colloquial style. For example, non-standard words and expressions like “’member” (l. 3), “these steps is broken down” (l. 6), “you gonna” (l. 13), and “ain’t gonna” (l. 19) suggest that the tenant is a black man who uses the type of grammar and vocabulary often used in African Americans vernacular. This way, the tenant’s identity is hinted at throughout the poem and then revealed in the ending stanza, when it is confirmed that he is “a negro” (l. 33). 

In contrast with the first five stanzas, the sixth stanza whe...

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