Theme for English B Questions and Answers
by Langston Hughes

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What is the theme of the poem "Theme for English B," by Langston Hughes?

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The overriding theme of this poem, as with many of Hughes's poems, is the black American experience, how it relates to identity, and how it can make it difficult for white Americans to understand others. The speaker in this poem has been directed by a teacher to write an exercise for class in which he should simply "let that page come out of you," the idea being that the words that flow will then be "true." However, Hughes contemplates in this poem whether this is as true for him, a black American, as it might be for "you," the teacher, who is a representative of wider white society and who is "somewhat more free."

In the body of the poem, Hughes details the simple aspects of his day-to-day life and upbringing: where he went to school and how he found his way to "this college on the hill above Harlem ." Notably, however, he begins this account with the statement that he is "colored" and then goes on to mention that he was the only "colored" child in his class growing up. This immediately...

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