Teachers Assignment. Students Rebuttal.
Just like so many of Langston Hughes’s poems, “Theme For English B,” uses free verse in his poetry to impose certain questions on race. In the introduction he uses the instructor as a voice of reason and guidance to the pupil. However, he does this by not giving one all the answers. The instructor in many ways is an Obi One Konobi figure. This figure pulls his pupil along by not giving them all the answers, but posing the important questions that will make them think differently. In this case, the author questions who are we and how do we know each other?
There are three unrhymed stanzas in this poem. They both rely on repetition and caesuras that sets a pace of a lyrical and almost continual way of the author having a piece of him in the poem. In the first stanza he describes his life in full detail. The image he uses is: “twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.”(p. 123) He briefly describes his journey from North Carolina to Harlem, New York and that he was the only black student in his college class. His instructor has assigned him a paper to write and thus begins the first stanza.
The second stanza begins with the conceit with the statement of what is true. He believes that there differences as to what we see as truth. In the beginning the instructor tells him to write something true. The truth for him is he does not know what truth is. In fact he questions his own humanity: “I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page. (I hear New York, too.) Me—who?” (p.123). This statement is his exploration of human meaning. What is it to be human? Is it meant to be separated or together? His exploration of human meaning and persona really digs into as to what humans do everyday. His is energetic alacrity catches the eyes and ears of the speaker. He “likes to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love,” (p.124) as well as other things. He also indicates he...