Langston Hughes wrote the poem Theme for English B in the early 1950s ; at this clip African Americans were still fighting to happen their ain individualities in America after being repressed for coevalss by Whites. This verse form illustrates how the storyteller grounds through this issue utilizing an assignment given to him by his professor in college ; the assignment is as follows:
Go place and compose
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a page tonight.
And allow that page come out of you — –
Then it will be true. ( 2-5 )
The professor bespeaking that this page “ be true ” is what sparks the pupils search to understand his ain individuality. “ I wonder if it ‘s that simple? ” ( 6 ) he inquiries. Is it possible that all it takes is to sit down and compose without reserves and whatever flows out of him will be true? He is non merely oppugning what the professor sees as the truth but besides what he sees as being true.
Hughes so begins to uncover some inside informations on the storytellers background ; “ I am 22, colored, born in Winston-Salem./I went to school at that place, so Durham, so here/to this college on the hill above Harlem. ” ( 7-9 ) . Hughes use of the word “ above ” when depicting where the college is located implies that the country the college is in may be better than Harlem. This is emphasized when he illustrates his walk place “ The stairss from the hill take down into Harlem/through a park, so I cross St.Nicholas, /Eight Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y ” ( 11-13 ) . For most “ the Y ” or the “ YMCA ” is associated with low income or bad vicinities. The commute shows us that the college he attends may be slightly distant from that country. We besides learn that the storyteller is the lone black pupil in his category, doing him a minority.
Knowing that he is a minority in the schoolroom makes it easier for us to understand how it would be hard for him to experience confident in being able to associate to his professor who is white. “ It ‘s non easy to cognize what is true for you or me/at 22, my age. ” ( 16-17 ) . This shows that the pupil is concerned with his deficiency of experience and because of this rawness he is diffident that he will be able to detect what the truth is for himself or for his professor. From my position the word “ truth ” in this verse form is a term used in topographic point of individuality. Is it possible to cognize who we are at such a immature age and can we state that we know who others are or should be? The pupil goes on to explicate that he is merely a aggregation of what his experiences have been: “ But I guess I ‘m what/I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: / hear you, hear meaˆ¦ ” ( 17-19 ) , he is Harlem, he is New York, he is all that he has learned and experienced in this metropolis. Harlem is a common denominator in many of Hughes Hagiographas and is mentioned multiple times in “ Theme for English B ” . When this piece was written Hughes had already been a portion of the Harlem Renaissance, a motion where African American literature flourished. The storyteller claiming that he is Harlem is the beginning of him happening his individuality ; he is claiming to be a portion of the African American heritage.
As the verse form goes on the storyteller keeps seeking for his truth and he begins to name basic things that he enjoys:
Well, I like to eat, kip, imbibe, and be in love.
I like to work, read, larn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for Christmas nowadays,
or records — – Bessie, Federal Bureau of Prisons, or Bach. ( 21-24 )
Thingss like feeding, sleeping, imbibing and love are enjoyed by about anyone in the universe ; he uses these things to demo that he is capable of placing to people of any race. He reinforces this by the music creative persons and manners that he includes, two of them, Bessie and Federal Bureau of Prisons are stereotypically favourites of the African American community and Bach is Classical music which is thought to be a manner that is by and large enjoyed by people of a white race. Even though he seems to hold made a kind of discovery by associating to white civilization he goes on to oppugn whether his race will finally do a difference in what he writes “ So will my page be colored that I write? / Bing me it will non be white ” ( 27-28 ) , this may be because due to his race his experiences and perceptual experiences have been different, at this point it seems like he ‘s in a jerk of war with himself.
The storyteller begins to come into footings with his individuality towards the shutting of the verse form, he begins this procedure by giving inside informations on how he and the professor are likewise and how the paper will reflect both who he is and who the professor is every bit good:
But it will be
a portion of you, teacher.
You are white — –
yet a portion of me, as I am a portion of you.
That ‘s American. ( 29-33 )
Here he explains the interconnection between the professor and himself and on a more general degree the connexion that exists between all world. One of us would non be the same without the others being or in this instance inkinesss would non be the same without Whites and frailty versa. The history between these two races is full of hurting and the denudation of basic human rights, this shared yesteryear has affected them both greatly and has given each race a different position and experience of life ; nevertheless, they are both still American and this history is a immense portion of what made America what it is. He admits “ Sometimes possibly you do n’t desire to be a portion of me./Nor do I frequently be a portion of you./But we are that ‘s true ” ( 34-36 ) , in other words no affair how much either party may desire to avoid placing with the other it is ineluctable.
Finally we come to the concluding lines of Hughes ‘s verse form which sum up the storytellers new apprehension of his individuality:
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me — –
although you ‘re older — -and white — –
and slightly more free. ( 37-40 )
He begins by one time once more acknowledging that he does so larn from his professor which is a representation of Whites. He goes on to remind the professor that regardless of his age or race he besides learns from him, nevertheless, the manner he phrases this statement does n’t look confident. The ground for this uncertainness may be because until he gets feedback from him on the assignment he is diffident of how he will take everything he ‘s said. Is the professor unfastened to the thought and would he hold that without each other who they are would be much different? You still feel some bitterness when he states “ slightly more free ” insinuating that Whites have the upper manus in America. “ This is my page for English B. ” ( 41 ) is how he chooses to shut out his ideas, he ‘s found his individuality and it is one that relates to both black and white civilization. He no longer feels the demand or force per unit area to be torn between two sides and accepts that each is a representation of who he is, he ‘s found his truth and hopes that his professor will be able to associate to his decision of what truth is.