Theme for English B Questions and Answers
by Langston Hughes

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Discuss "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes.

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Langston Hughes’ poem “Theme for English B” is a thought provoking poem. When first approached, the poem seems to be for the black reader; however,  it really speaks to the white man.  Published in 1949, it addresses the problems faced by young adults who wanted a college education. 

Of course, this problem later came to the forefront in the 1950s and 1960s. The black students wanted an education just like the whites. The poem dates itself through the use of the word “colored” which is nomenclature that is no used.

This is poem that speaks volumes to loneliness and isolation. The...

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mfreddo | Student

"The instructor said,

Go home and write

a page tonight

And let that page come out of you-

Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple?"

In these opening lines of the poem, Hughes first identifies the disparity between black and white.  He wonders if the same goals are attaintable for him as he considers his background and circumstances.  Will everything that pours out of him be true?

As them poem continues, Hughes goes on to paint the picture of their symbiotic relationship (instructor and student).  They are vastly different as he is "older- and white- and somewhat more free" and yet they have the opporunity to learn from eachother.  Moreover, they are described as part of eachother as Americans, yet the speaker is hesistant to believe the instructor embraces this connection and admits that he himself might, at times, prefer to isolate himself. 

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