Summary of Langston Hughes' Poem, "Ballad of the Landlord"


In this brief assignment, I will summarize Langston Hughes' poem, "Ballad of the Landlord."

This poem describes a confrontation between a black tenant, living probably in the ghetto of a big-city, USA, and his landlord. The tenant reminds the landlord of his maintenance problems, a leaky roof and broken steps. The landlord ignores the tenant's problems and tells him his ten-dollar rent is due. This response angers the tenant, so he refuses to pay until the landlord fixes the house. Immediately, the landlord threatens to evict him, turn off the heat, and throw all his furniture into the street, if he doesn't pay the rent. Feeling that one threat deserves another, the tenant also threatens the landlord with a punch to the lips to shut him up. The landlord calls the police because of the tenant's threat. The media distorts this incident and portrays the poor tenant (and not the landlord) as the aggressor. The tenant is arrested and thrown to jail, without bail, for 90 days.



The poem "Ballad of the Landlord" was written by Langston Hughes in

the early to middle 1900's. It is the story of an encounter between a

landlord and his tenant. The tenant is upset with the landlord,

because his roof is leaking and his steps are broken. When the

landlord asks for the month's rent, the tenant says he will not pay

until the house is repaired. The landlord threatens to evict the

tenant, and the tenant threatens to punch the landlord. Upon this threat the landlord calls the

police, and they throw the tenant into jail. The story is summarized

in the local paper, making the minority renter seem completely at fault.