“Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes – Literature Essay
In Langston Hughes poem “Theme for English B,” the literary elements like plot, character, setting, tone, point of view, symbols, and themes weight heavy throughout this poem. The plot seems to take on a very structured, by
providing detailed background information. The plot is clearly connected to the setting as Hughes states “I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem. I went to school there, then Durham, then here to this college on the hill above Harlem.” It sets an indicator of the time period and growth. The setting begins as the student is instructed to “go home and write”, “Then, it will be true.” The setting seems to give indication, of a young college student experiencing the world through a colored man’s eyes. The setting takes you to a time before or during desegregation. As the writer begins to explore his thoughts his self-assessment sets the tone throughout the poem. The tone indicates his feelings toward growing up colored in a white world.
The author attitude towards truth seems to start from the very beginning of the poem. In which, you begin to see the character take form. The main character can be considered a round or protagonist character. Because of all of his accomplishment it appears that he is very well educated and knowledgeable. As the protagonist begins to discuss his point of view on society can be argued.
The argument of “That’s American” can be misunderstood. Due to during that time period colored were not considered American, but Africans. During giving his point of view the protagonist begins to show that the symbols and themes are closely related to the task at hand. The protagonist seems to be hinting at the fact that are skin may be different, “yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. That’s American. Which “that’s American” symbols that it doesn’t matter what color you are America is a country of multi-colored people. It seems as the protagonist moves throughout the story the interior monologue is clear. At the beginning of the poem the protagonist gives you the feeling that he is somewhat of arrogant. Throughout the poem the protagonist seems to develop into a more stock character.
The climax of the poem seems to draw all elements such as the plot, character, setting, tone, point of view, symbols, and themes, to make a even flow read. The protagonist opens your eyes to the views of racism, social status, and political equality in America. The realization of these views sets the tone, symbols, and themes. The protagonist questions the instructor from the very beginning. With the statement “I wonder if it’s that simple?”, because being young, colored, and educated was not easy. The tone, symbols, and themes give you such understanding and clarity of what this protagonist young life experience of being true to oneself is evident.
Hughes, Langston. “Theme for English B.” Sixth Edition Literature An Introduction To Reading and Writing. Roberts. Edgar V, Henry Jacobs E. New Jersey: Prentice Hall 2001. 822-823