Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B”
Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B” is an inspiring poem - Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B” introduction. His 1949 poem shed light on how African Americans felt during this era. His writes about a 22 year old African American college student that was instructed but his instructor to go home and write a page. Langston then proceeds to talk about where the student is from and how he is the only colored student in his class. The student talks about what he likes and that he isn’t any different from other races. He explains how writing a piece will influence others, as others influenced him. He’s worries how people feel because of his color; will his color influence others decisions.
Taking the life of a young African American student and having this fictional character represent all colored people, expressing his way of how people seen them as. Langston’s character makes an indirect statement that we’re all the same. Langston makes you feel as if you are in the characters shoes when describing whether you’re white or colored, everyone is the same. “The instructor said, Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you-Then, it will be true” (1-5). The student’s instructor wanted him to write a piece that’s comes from his voice and express how he feels with true statements.
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The student explains in his passage that he lives in Harlem and “I am the only colored student in my class” (9). He describes where he was born and where he moved to. Harlem is predominately Hispanic and African American, and he goes to a college of only whites’, right on the hill above Harlem. “The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem…and I come to the Y…where I take the elevator up to my room, sit down and write this page:” (11-15). Living in an era where blacks were still looked down upon, he shares his frustrations on this paper.
Langston continues this poem by having the student describe what he likes and likes to do. “Well, I like to eat, sleep drink and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life. I like a pipe for a Christmas present, or records-Bessie, bop or bash. ”(21-24). He’s explaining that colored people are just the same as whites. He’s expressing that all races are the same, equal. Reading this poem gives me a sense of how young African Americans felt at that time. It is now 2011, 62 years after this poem was written, and colored people still feel like they struggled their way through American.
Although we gotten so far from the racism that went on years ago and the segregation, there’s always that feeling that you’re being watched or doing something wrong because you’re colored. “So will my page be colored that I write. Being me, it will not be white” (27-28). The student changes his tone to his white instructor. Langston says that if your white, as the instructor is, and your reading the students poem, you are now apart of that poem and the student; and because he was taught by the instructor, the instructor is now apart of him. Both not wanting to be a part of each other, but yet are because they learned from one another.
One (colored) inspiring the others (whites), although the whites have more freedom. “I guess you learn from me-although you’re older-white- and somewhat more free”(38-40). Langston wants the world to know that blacks are the same as everyone else. He doesn’t want to have to wonder if people are judging him because of his color. He expresses the way a lot of African Americans felt and still feel about living in the world overpopulated by whites. He focuses on issues that went on in that time and whether your white or black you can influence others by having them learn from you.