“African Morning” Summary: Langston Hughes Short Story Synopsis

African Morning Langston Hughes Summary Short Story Synopsis
“African Morning” Summary

“African Morning” is a short story by Langston Hughes, a prolific writer who was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s & 30s. It’s about a half White, half Black boy who doesn’t belong anywhere, especially after the death of his mother. Here’s a summary of “African Morning”.

“African Morning” Summary

Murai, twelve-years old, washes himself in the backyard and puts on his English clothes, which his mother (before she died) told him to wear when he was with his father or on an errand. Murai’s mother was a Black African, and his father is White. Murai is mulatto; his skin is golden. Murai’s father is president of the only bank for hundreds of miles on the Niger delta coast.

Murai is the only half-native, half English child in his village and isn’t wanted by either group. The African children throw rocks at him, and his mother isn’t around to defend him anymore. He lives in the English section of the stockade, which is fenced off from the natives. His father has already taken a very young Black woman to replace his deceased mother.

Murai goes to the bank to pick up a letter that he’ll deliver to a ship captain. His father orders him out of the office as they count the gold. Africans aren’t allowed to have any gold. Maybe his coloring, like gold, is what makes the Black people hate him. His father comes out and gives him a letter for Captain Higgins of the Drury and an invitation later for tea.

Murai walks to the dock where people are busy loading ships and selling food. He boards the ship and delivers the letter to the captain who receives it without a word. As he leaves, a sailor mistakes him for a “guide boy”, a runner who leads sailors to prostitutes.

Some of these runners hurl racial epithets at Murai as he goes by. He hits one of them and is jumped by about a dozen boys, who hit him. A few Black women selling fruit join in the attack, while a few sailors enjoy watching.

The boys run Murai off and he recovers down the street. He thinks of how he was viewed, even in his English clothes. Murai walks up the main street past all the vendors to the edge of the jungle. He travels down a narrow path to the bank of a lagoon. He undresses and cools his bruised body in the water.

Murai isn’t afraid of snakes or crocodiles, only White and Black people—and gold people. He wonders why he isn’t either White or Black. He sinks to the bottom and thinks of staying down there, but he shoots back up and swims around. He doesn’t want to go back to the house where the captain will be having tea in the living room. He and the dark girl his father is with will eat in the kitchen.

Murai feels hungry and tired. He lies on the bank and starts crying. His mother is dead and his father will eventually go back to England. He’ll be alone in Africa where no one wants him. Two birds sing in a tree above him, not recognizing the boy’s pain. They flash their wings and fly away.

I hope this summary of “African Morning” by Langston Hughes was helpful.