50-50

50-50

by Langston Hughes

 I’m all alone in this world, she said,
Ain’t got nobody to share my bed,
Ain’t got nobody to hold my hand—
The truth of the matter’s
I ain’t got no man.

Big Boy opened his mouth and said,
Trouble with you is
You ain’t got no head!
If you had a head and used your mind
You could have me with you
All the time.

She answered, Babe, what must I do?

He said, Share your bed—
And your money, too

Summary of 50-50

  • Popularity of “50-50”: This short poem was written by Langston Hughes, a renowned American poet, novelist, and playwright. The poem 50-50 is a remarkable literary piece due to its themes of desire and isolation. It was first published in the early 20th That period was also known as the Harlem Renaissance as the African Americans were struggling to find equal rights. The poem speaks about a lonely woman who desperately wants someone in her life and is unsure of her life. She is perhaps not worried about the consequences of choosing the wrong man. It also highlights the reality of relationships in the present world, which is mostly materialistic.
  • “50-50” As a Representative of Greed: This poem is about a solitary woman who wants to be comforted by someone. She mourns because she has no one to be intimate with her. Therefore, she longs for someone to share her bed or hold her hand. Soon, the man responds to that lady by calling her silly. He adds if she would use her mind, she could have him all the time. On hearing this, the lady asks what she needs to do to be in a relationship. The man called ‘Big Boy’ takes advantage of that lady’s ignorance and answers with a suggestion that she has to share her bed and money with him. Thus, this reply clearly states the man’s intention that he is interested in her material assets and body.
  • Major Themes in “50-50”: Greed, sex, loneliness are the major themes of this poem. On the surface level, the poem presents the dilemma of a lonely woman who wants a man to cure her loneliness. Surprisingly, she gets a man, but he demands her to share her bed and money with him. The poem bears a profound meaning, as Langston Hughes points out the bitter reality that relations are made to gain material pursuits and sexual desires. They have nothing to do with love, sincerity, and honesty. The playful reply of the man clearly explains how relationships work in the world.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “50-50”

Literary devices are tools that writers use to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make their texts more lifelike and appealing to the readers. Langston Hughes has employed some literary devices in this poem to show the reality of relationships. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been stated below.

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /d/ in “Ain’t got nobody to hold my hand” and the sound of /l/ in “I’m all alone in this world, she said”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /b/ in “Big Boy opened his mouth and said”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or a clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over to the next line. For example,

If you had a head and used your mind
You could have me with you
All the time.”

  1. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “Ain’t got nobody” in the first stanza is repeated to emphasize the speaker’s loneliness.

“Ain’t got nobody to share my bed,
Ain’t got nobody to hold my hand—
The truth of the matter’s
I ain’t got no man.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. “Bed” symbolizes sexual desires, while “money” symbolizes material assets.
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to perceive things involving five senses. For example, “I’m all alone in this world, she said”; “Ain’t got nobody to share my bed” and “Big Boy opened his mouth and said.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “50-50”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each varies in length.
  2. Sestet: A sestet is a six lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. Here the second stanza is sestet.
  3. Quintet: A quintet is a five-lined stanza in poetry. Here, the first stanza is a quintet.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used when a friend is not thinking straight or confused about their choices. Though the phrase is harsh, it might help someone to think logically and stop them from making the wrong decisions.

“If you had a head and used your mind
You could have me with you
All the time.”