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Analysis and comments on Theme For English B by Langston Hughes

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Comment 5 of 225, added on December 17th, 2004 at 4:15 PM.

I just had to write a response on this poem for English class, and after
visiting this site, posting it wouldnt be too bad of an idea. It's not that
great, though.


The frightening realms of inconsistency and contradictory belief are often
unexplored by the average person, as they tend to oppose the most common
and seemingly-linear beliefs. Often, what seems to be illogical and absurd
is actually the plain and simple truth, and one which is unconsciously
discarded as an impossibility due to a naturally restricted perception,
bred by popular belief. One’s own identity is much more complex and general
then one would first believe it to be, as it is comparable to many others.
While it may seem like yours, and only yours, you would be baffled to learn
of how mutual and interlinked your identity may be with any random
individual. The struggle to separate one’s identity from others may prove
to be simple, but reversing this type of reasoning is of utmost difficulty.
As a result, inequality has manifested our world, as people tend to believe
that certain individuals are not equivalent in comparison to others, based
on their identities. Langston Hughes attempts to develop the idea of
paradox within one’s own identity within his poem, “Theme for English B”,
as he masterfully recites a simple tale of a colored man slowly realizing
the universal qualities within the distinctive identity of human beings.
The poem features a chronicle progression, complementing the persona’s
development in terms of his realization of the interlinked qualities of
identity. There is a connection as well, between the first stanza and the
next three, as each of its sentences complements one of the following
stanzas. The persona was told to “go home and write a page tonight”; this
is basically a summary of the first stanza, which tends to symbolize the
perceived distinctiveness of identity: even Harlem, an area unified in
harmony, has its separate branches, which symbolizes the belief of separate
identities on a larger scale. Furthermore, the simplicity which the persona
uses, evident through the simple diction and event-after-event progression,
resembles the thought process of the average person, in terms of what they
believe they are. If a person was to ask another to just write or talk
about himself, then the results would be similar, possessing parallel
vagueness and simplicity, since not many have reflected upon their true
identity, and will go on to say that they are “twenty-two, colored, born in
Winston-Salem”. In the second stanza, the persona goes deeper, however, as
he relates his identity to his surroundings: Harlem. This leads to
confusion, however, evident by the line (I hear New York, too). Me—who?
This leads the person into a state of confusion, as he now realizes how
influenced he is by society. This strengthens Hughes’s paradox; how could
it be an individual identity if it is based on one’s surroundings, which
could be very similar. The description of the persona’s interest that
follow those lines, are again, simple and extremely general, helping to
illuminate the connection between different identities. “I guess being
colored doesn’t make me not like the same things other folks like who are
other races”, shows deeper a deeper thought process in which the persona
realizes the similarities between different races, as he “[lets] the page
come out of [himself]”. Reaching the truth is discovering the paradox
within one’s identity; it may appear to be different on the outside,
symbolized by the metaphorical paper, whose color resembles the person’s
skin tone. “Being me, it will not be white”, says the persona. However, the
content of this paper is a metaphor when related to the white man,
symbolizing how its content is a part of the instructor. The persona then
realizes that although physically different, people share the basic
qualities which form the identity of every person.
It is only when people realize the significant paradox of the intertwined
properties of identity, that inequality will be eliminated from our world.
While outward appearances may color the page which you write on, what you
write may resemble anyone’s writings. When people ignore such a thing and
only take into account the obvious and misleading aspects of identity,
discrimination results. Therefore, one must eventually discover the
naturally occurring similarities between all races and identities, and put
aside the physical differences in order to learn the art of tolerance. The
identity may be what defines a person, separating different individuals,
but is the recognition of the universal properties of identity which have
led the human race towards the path of tolerance and unification, while it
is the ignorance of such connections that have led to the ongoing struggles
for equity.

Rock from Lebanon
Comment 4 of 225, added on December 15th, 2004 at 7:55 PM.

I must admit that when I first read this poem, I was not the kind of person
who was tolerant of the whole race and people making a big deal out of it.
But then, when i read this poem, I realized it was not about race really,
but about two men's differences but how it was okay. This pome turned me
into a Hughes fan and I hope it has converted you as well!

Kate from United States
Comment 3 of 225, added on December 11th, 2004 at 11:42 AM.

This is one of my favorite poems. I thought that the man is trying to tell
his teacher about himself and his African American culture and how much
they are so different to one another but they are both Americans and
whether they like it or not, they are both connected in that way.

Mary from United States
Comment 2 of 225, added on December 6th, 2004 at 7:36 PM.

My thought on this poem basically refers to an African American and his
conflict with explaining himself as an African american to a white person.
He wishes to describe himself as African because that is his culture, who
he is. He is from a black area and goes to a white school. He wants to
pertray himself as an intelligent black man but realizes who he really is,
African (American). The instructor is also an American and so that's what
makes them equal. So he is just going to refer to himself as who he is,
regardless of what any race feels, he's a black man.

Krystyn from United States
Comment 1 of 225, added on October 15th, 2004 at 9:56 AM.

good poem

Nicole from United States

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Information about Theme For English B

Poet: Langston Hughes
Poem: Theme For English B
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 161 times

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