What is ironic about the title of the poem "Life is Fine" by Langston Hughes?  

1 Answer | Add Yours

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The title of the poem is ironic because the poem describes the author being so miserable in life that he attempts to drown himself in a cold river, and then contemplates jumping off of a high building-all in order to end his life.  So, the author doesn't really think that life is fine, he is being sarcastic.  In fact, the only thing keeping him in this life is a combination of cowardice ("If that water hadn't a-been so cold/I might've sunk and died" and "If it hadn't a-been so high/I might've jumped and died"), and a resignation that since he is so terrible at trying to die, that "for livin' I was born".  So, because he's not going to die, and even though life is so miserable that he will "holler" and "cry" about it, he'll keep living it.  He ends the poem by sarcastically bemoaning, "Life is fine!  Fine as wine!" as a sort of "yeah, life is great, isn't it?  Here I am, stuck," sort of moment.  So, the title is ironic because the author doesn't think life is fine, but since he's stuck here through a fear of dying, he might as well pretend that it is.

We’ve answered 317,587 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question