Explain how Hughes uses setting to reveal the characters??™ psychological states and to convey their sense of loss.
In the short story ???Early Autumn???, Langston Hughes shows an example of people??™s everyday lives. He writes the story in a fashion to show how not communicating effectively and making a brash decision can change one??™s life and what might have been. The author??™s reoccurring theme of loss and opportunities missed show throughout the story. Hughes describes the passing of seasons, refers to the cold outside and the sun setting, and finally the people passing by to show the reader love lost, the awkwardness between the characters, and missed opportunities.
In the story he tells about two people in love who did not communicate and then went on their separate ways. ???When Bill was very young, they had been in love. Many nights they had spent walking, talking together. Then something not very important had come between them, and they didn??™t speak. Impulsively, she had married a man she thought she loved. Bill went away, bitter about women???.? He uses the setting of fall and ???the leaves that fell slowly from the trees in the square??? to represent this. This feeling of what may have been is carried through out the story.
Hughes uses the description of the cold feeling outside to refer to the awkward conversation between Bill and Mary and the lost feelings from what might have been between them. He also symbolizes this with, ???Autumn dusk. She felt a little sick???. Hughes relates this to the reader again by showing Mary??™s thought, ???Under the trees in Washington Square, she found herself desperately reaching back into the past. She had been older than he then in Ohio. Now she was not young at all. Bill was still young.??? The conversation between Bill and Mary show their psychological states as sad and wondering what could have been. The almost incomplete sentences spoken between the two show the hurt the two feel and decisions made impulsively.
The people passing by the characters represent missed opportunities. Hughes uses the passage ???A great many people went past them through the park. People they didn??™t know???, to show this. This motif is repeated later in the story by Hughes, ???People came between them outside, people crossing the street, people they didn??™t know. Space and people???. He uses this symbolism to show the people that pass as the same as their lost relationship, and they separate father from each other by not moving at all. Another reference to missed opportunities is when Hughes relates, ???And she was afraid to open her mouth as she entered the bus. Afraid it would be impossible to utter a word.? Suddenly she shrieked very loudly, ???Good-by!??? But the bus door had closed.? The bus started???.
Hughes story shows that people change over space and time. The author also conveys the sense of loss, missed opportunities, and emotional effect that can happen if we do not slow down to embrace and promote meaningful relationships.