In the conclusion to “Home,” Langston Hughes compares a lynch mob to a piece of music written by Ludwig van Beethoven. Though it is not clear to which sonata Hughes alluded, it seems appropriate to provide a sample of the third movement of “Moonlight Sonata.”
The frenzied pace clearly reflects the chaos surrounding Roy Williams’ lynching. Still, I was struck that Hughes used Beethoven to describe a heinous display of racial violence. But, after considering W.E.B. Du Bois’ concepts of the Veil and double consciousness, Hughes’ intentions in “Home” become clearer.
Hughes opens the essay with Roy returning home to Missouri after an extended musical tour of Europe. After getting off a Pullman rail car (“something unusual for a Negro in those parts”), Roy stood at the train station, “slim and elegant…surrounded by his bags with the bright stickers.”  When he greeted an old friend who was white, Roy took off a glove and shook his hand. His white friend, however, pulled back his hand. “Roy had forgotten he wasn’t in Europe, wearing gloves and shaking hands glibly with a white man!”  Finally, when Roy was preparing to leave the station, he noticed a group of white men eying and judging him. “His skin burned. For the first time in half a dozen years he felt his color. He was home.” 
This scene is a prime example of double consciousness and the Veil. While in Europe, uncontrolled by Jim Crow, Roy did not have to think twice about riding alongside whites or how to shake a person’s hand. But, upon his arrival in Missouri, the mean looks reminded him that he would need to scrutinize how he acted in front of white people. In essence, Europe allowed Roy to temporarily lift the Veil, but his reception at the train station forced it back over his face.
Later, the Veil distorted Roy’s view of a white woman attending his performance at a local church. “See them looking proud at me and music…over the head of the white woman in the cheap coat and red hat who knows what music’s all about…Who are you, lady?”  Soon, however, the woman introduces herself and compliments Roy’s ability; eventually, Miss Reese invites him to play at the local high school. He agrees, but the students who saw him perform eagerly told their parents about the “uppity” black man who delighted their white female teacher with his ability. 
Roy’s experience at the train station fueled his initially sarcastic view of Miss Reese. The animosity that whites showed to Roy there embittered him about the treatment of African Americans. In turn, this shut him off from the reality that some whites were able to see past the Veil.
The essay’s conclusion stresses, however, that many whites were not able to see past the Veil, especially when Roy innocently forgets the social rules dictated by Jim Crow. While walking through town one night, Roy and Miss Reese strike up a conversation about music. But, just as he did at the train station, Roy removes his gloves and shakes her hand. This leads a group of whites to assault Roy, who they believed raped the white woman. Eventually, they take him to the woods where the essay tragically ends.
Then, why did Hughes reference Beethoven to describe the barbaric lynch mob that stripped Roy of his humanity?
I believe that he is suggesting culture can serve as a form of resistance to Jim Crow. Throughout the essay, Roy’s musical talent is indisputable. It allowed him to travel the world. He saw that he could be considered an equal if not for the Veil that distorted white Americans’ views towards African Americans. His actions, his appearance, and his talent—all of which elevated Roy above many whites in Hopkinsville—however, made whites anxious and desperate to demonstrate their dominance. They hoped to instill fear in black Americans to prevent them from violating Jim Crow social rules in the future. As a result, this anxiety—stoked by whites’ own fears—took the form of a lynching. But, by using Beethoven to frame such a violent act, Hughes turns the tables on the lynch mob. Instead of describing Roy’s fear as the lynch mob surrounded him, Hughes referenced culture to stress Roy’s (and perhaps Hughes’ own) resiliency and resistance in the face of racism.
 Langston Hughes, “Home,” in The Ways of White Folks (New York: Random House, Inc., 2011), 49.
 Ibid., 36.
 Ibid., 37.
 Ibid., 42.
 Ibid., 44.