Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

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What literary devices does Langston Hughes use in "Let America Be America Again"?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Another literary device that Langston Hughes uses in his poem "Let America Be America Again" is change of voice or narrator. The first narrator is more optimistic, expressing the ideal form of America. This person says, "Let it be the dream it used to be" in the second line. The second narrator comes in with parenthetical remarks between the stanzas. For example, the second narrator says after the first stanza, "(America never was America to me.)"

In the second stanza, the first, more hopeful narrator says, "Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed." Again, this narrator stresses the promise of America. The second narrator, in between stanzas, says, "(It never was America to me.)" After the third stanza, the second narrator says, "(There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this 'homeland of the free.')" The use of shifting narration emphasizes the difference between the promise of America and the reality for many Americans, including African-Americans, Native Americans, and others. The change of narrator emphasizes the duality of America.

In addition, Hughes uses alliteration, or the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of words that are close together. Examples are "pioneer on the plain" and "land of love."

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Literary devices that American writer Langston Hughes uses in the 86 line poem 'Let America Be America Again’ include:

1. A rhyme scheme in certain stanzas:

For example, in stanza number 1 the rhyme schemes is ABAB. Line one rhymes with line three; line two rhymes with line four. This rhyme scheme is used again in stanza number two and three.

2. Internal rhyme

Internal rhyme is rhyme within a singular line. In line two of stanza number one:

Let it be the dream it used to be.

The internal rhyme is in the words: be, dream, be.

The internal rhyme in line one of stanza number two is dream, dreamers, dreamed.

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

3. Alliteration

We can refer back to the above line (line one of stanza number two)....

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