Not Without Laughter

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Not Without Laughter
Not Without Laughter cover
Author Langston Hughes
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Published 1930 (Random House)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 324
ISBN 0-394-43873-6 (hardback edition)
OCLC 461935
LC Class PS3515.U274

Not Without Laughter is the debut novel by Langston Hughes published in 1930.

Plot introduction[edit]

Not Without Laughter portrays African-American life in Kansas in the 1910s, focusing on the effects of class and religion on the community.[1] The main storyline focuses on Sandy's "awakening to the sad and the beautiful realities of black life in a small Kansas town." The major intent of the novel is to portray Sandy's life as he tries to be the best he can be, aspiring to folks such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.


  • Sandy Rogers – the protagonist
  • Jimboy – Sandy's father, generally portrayed as irresponsible
  • Annjee Williams – Sandy's mother
  • Aunt Hager Williams – Annjee's mother and Sandy's grandmother, a conservative Baptist
  • Tempy Siles/Williams – Annjee's rich sister
  • Mr. Siles – a rich man who marries Tempy
  • Harriett Williams – sister of Annjee; blues singer
  • Willie-Mae – friend of Sandy


Hughes said that Not Without Laughter is semi-autobiographical, and that a good portion of the characters and setting included in the novel are based on his memories of growing up in Lawrence, Kansas: "I wanted to write about a typical Negro family in the Middle West, about people like those I had known in Kansas. But mine was not a typical Negro family."


  1. ^ "Overview: Not without Laughter." Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them. Joyce Moss and George Wilson. Vol. 3: Growth of Empires to the Great Depression (1890-1930s). Detroit: Gale, 1997. Literature Resource Center. Web