Part of what makes this poem so powerful is the idea that individuals play a vital role in constructing their own sense of reality. The opening lines or the assignment takes this to a simple, yet alarmingly complex, level. When the instructor asks the students to essentially construct truth, it is at this point where Hughes takes off in his exploration. Indeed, part of this journey is to articulate what it means to be black in the social setting of the time. Part of this is to go to a different home than others, a different part of town than others, and to sit in a college classroom while looking physically and experiencing reality metaphysically different than others. This construction of truth is undeniable. Yet, there are aspects within this experience where race is not the defining element to one's being. When the speaker articulates wanting a pipe or specific types of music, there is an amazingly complex truth present: Perhaps, it is not race that divides as much as class or cultural capital which is the demarcation. Few literary thinkers, and even fewer poets, have played with this like Hughes has. The convergence of race and class/ cultural capital is what helps the speaker define his level of truth as a complex one, where individuals face different concentric circles of experience and "truth."
Essay on Theme for English B
656 WordsJan 17th, 20113 Pages
Through his poem “Theme for English B”, Langston Hughes expresses his will to exterminate discrimination by proving that despite different skin colors, Americans all share similarities and learn from each other. Langston wrote the poem in 1900, when black Americans were not considered Americans. He talks about a black student being assigned to write a paper about himself. The audience is thus the student’s professor – the representation of the white Americans. Since the professor said: “let that page come out of you---Then, it will be true.”, the student began wondering “if it’s that simple”. He then describes himself to explain why it isn’t simple: he is “twenty-two”, “the only colored in class”, and lives in the poor community Harlem.…show more content…
Sometimes, the difference make them not want to be a part of each other, yet “that’s true”: they are living in America – a multicultural country that values equality and liberty. That is why they should learn to deal with the differences and take advantages of the similarities as well as to experience different points of views: “as I learn from you, I guess you learn from me”. Through this process, both of them win and neither loses. The professor is “older and somewhat more free” than the student, so he should be free of biases towards the student’s poverty and background.
Throughout the poem, the author chooses simple diction. This makes the tone straightforward and blunt, like a black America who simply expresses himself instead of sermonizing about discrimination. Thereby, readers can accept the poem’s argument more easily. Furthermore, the author writes the poem mostly in long sentences to emphasize on short yet important sentences such as “That’s America.”, “Be we are. That’s true!” The poem has a tied and effective structure. It opens with a familiar scene: a professor asks students to write assignment. However, as the student’s question “I wonder if it’s that simple” triggers readers’ curiosities, since the assignment seems to be simple. As the poem progresses, we understand more of the assignment’s difficulties. The conflict comes to the climax at the sentence “will my page be colored what I write?” and is solved right after that, from line 28