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Reaction to Nonfiction sample essay

Salvation by Langston Hughes and Who Will Light Incense When Mothers Gone? Are two stories from the text that capture the attention and imagination of the reader. These two are nonfiction short stories that easily relate to the reader as well. Both stories caused a personal reaction as the writer used certain strategies to detail the idea, theme, and purpose behind each of the writings. It is also important to know the difference between a fiction and nonfiction story. The author has to intrigue the reader’s imagination to make the story interesting.

Reactions and Strategies


Salvation was written by Langston Hughes in 1940. This is a nonfictional story based on a childhood experience of the authors. Religion was apparently prominent in Hughes childhood and his family seemed to live by God’s word. Religion was so important to his family that he had to make a hard decision on either lying to his family or letting down his Lord. The writer described the day he was to find Jesus as a time to “bring the young lambs to the fold” (Hughes, 1940. P. 351). The story was moving, intriguing, and heartfelt. The writer made the story believable by giving a detailed setting and theme. The writer also used personal feelings and emotions of others to make this story believable.

Who Will Light Incense When Mothers Gone?

This short story was written by Andrew Lam in 2003. I was also a nonfictional story based on an experience in Lam’s adult years. Lam’s family were immigrates from Vietnam and the setting is at his mother’s 70th birthday. Lam overheard his mother asking her sister who would continue the tradition of lighting the incense and praying to the ancestors for protection. She seemed to be very concerned as was her sister that this tradition would cease when they passed away. This story was an eye-opener to what one may feel when tradition has been left to the elders and now needs to be passed down to the younger generations. It shows that when one is moved out of their culture they may try to hold on and teach their young, but there is no guarantee that the young will appreciate the values. One line expressed how the writer new his mothers pain, “mortality never less weighs heavy on her soul” (Lam, 20003. P. 1077). The writer used personal feelings and an insight into past and future to guide the reader into a better understanding of the situation.

Personal Relation and Intended Purposes

Salvation brings back childhood memories of personal experiences with church and family. Memories of summer at vocation bible school camp with friends and the lessons taught by the pastors. Also, movies about African Americans and church in the early and mid 1900’s were thought of during this reading. The purpose of this short story was geared toward understanding the importance of God in the writer’s life and family. The writer also displays the emotional reaction to his decision to lie about finding Jesus. Who Will Light Incense When Mothers Gone?, was a reminder of a military background involved with exposure to many cultures and religious diversities.

Every cultures has it’s values and norms. When several generations of a particular culture migrate to America, some of those values will be lost. Individual ambitions will take place of the family traditions and values (Lam, 2003). The mother was upset with the son many times as he grew into an American cowboy, which the Vietnamese identified as being selfish and a rebel (Lam, 2003). The writer’s intent was to inform the reader of a lost tradition with in his family’s culture. Also, to make aware the struggle within to please his mother while upholding his personal ambitions.

Nonfiction and Imagination

It was apparent that these two stories were nonfiction because both were based on a personal experience that had and emotional impact on their life. The stories related to struggles and decisions that weighed on the consensus. It can be assumed that writing about these events may have taken pressure off the writer. Even with nonfiction the imagination needs to be provoked. The writer must set the theme and give a detailed setting so that the reader can place themselves in the situation. Including emotions of other characters also impact the imagination. If the author is trying to get a certain point across to his readers then they must bring the reader into the scene.


Both stories were easy to identify with because they were detailed with personal emotions and experiences. The author was aiming for a reaction from the reader that was personal and that was reached. The writer’s intention was clear and understood in both stories and was easy to connect personal experiences with. The two stories were nonfiction and dealt with personal struggles. Being that the two stories were personal it was intriguing to the imagination and simple to relate to.


Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). : Pearson.

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