“The Ballard of the Landlord” is a poem by Langston Hughes that mostly depicts the common disputes between landlords and their tenants especially in the 1940s, where there was a lot of social protests. The poem opens with the tenant complaining about the condition of the house claiming the roof is leaking and that the steps are broken, problems he had forwarded to him before (Langston). The tenant also says that the landlord will demand ten dollars before repairing the house and the tenant will have paid a lot more than that before the repairs are done. He also demands for the repairs to be done but the landlord threatens to throw out his furniture (Langston). The tenant then says that if he punches the landlord then he will be arrested for challenging law and order and thus will be jailed and even make the headlines.
The author looks at the social injustice that is happening in the country as landlords continue to mishandle their property while expecting the tenants to continue paying their rent. It also depicts a small part of the social injustice directed at the African American community where it is believed that their presence in a building or neighborhood usually lowers the value of the property. It is clear that the police also help the landlords to continue taking advantage of their tenants. Langston uses figures of speech such as hyperbole, euphemism as the tenant threatens the landlord, rhetoric questions as well as irony when the tenant is arrested by the police yet he is the one who called them to arrest the landlord.
Hughes, Langston, et al. “A Cultural Case Study: Harlem Renaissance.” The Collected Works of Langston Hughes, 2001, pp. 941-942.