Theme for English B

by Langston Hughes

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What are some literary devices in the poem "Theme for English B"?

Literary devices used in the poem "Theme for English B" include alliteration, imagery, personification, rhetorical questions, and euphemism.

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The poem “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes contains several literary devices. When responding to this question, you will want to consider alliteration, imagery, personification, rhetorical questions, and euphemism.

Alliteration is the repetition of vowel sounds. Langston Hughes uses alliteration in the line “Bessie, bop, or Bach.” Imagery is when an author asks the reader to use their senses. In “Theme for English B,” Hughes writes, “I like a pipe for a Christmas present.” You can almost see the pipe wrapped in paper underneath the Christmas tree.

Personification is when inanimate objects are given human characteristics. Hughes's love of Harlem and New York make them come alive and almost seem human. He writes “I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you,” giving the neighborhood a human quality. Rhetorical questions are also used in the poem. A rhetorical question is a question that is not meant to be answered but is used to emphasize a concept or make a point. Hughes asks, “I wonder if it’s that simple?” and “So will my page be colored that I write?”

Euphemism is also noted in this piece. A euphemism is a more polite way to say something that is harsh. Instead of directly addressing his professor’s possible racism, he mentions it in the line “Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.” These literary devices and examples should give you a good foundation to respond to the question.

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