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English B theme

             "Theme for English B" is a poem by Langston Hughes in which a black student in a predominantly white college takes a writing assignment as an opportunity to ponder over the complicated issue of race relations in America. The assignment reads, "Go home and write/ a page tonight/ and let that page come out of you/ then, it will be true" (lines 2-5). These instructions show what's honest is true. The speaker's real feelings come through about the inequality between black and white races. He provides plenty of information about himself in the first half of the poem where he lives, some of the things he likes, and so on. The second half of the poem is more concerned with the similarities and differences between the speaker and the instructor. The speaker touches on the lack of bitterness or animosity towards these differences. This poem shows that the speaker is not resentful of race relations in America, and believes that the undeniable connection between blacks and whites that he speaks of in the last stanza is truly what it means to be an American.
             Langston Hughes is not bitter towards race relationships in America, although many of the lines can be interpret as conveying feelings of hatred. The speaker asserts that he is the only colored student in his class. Later, as he is explaining how he and his instructor are inevitably connected, he mentions that oftentimes, he does not appreciate this connection. In one of the last lines of the poem, the speaker calls the instructor "older - and white -/ and somewhat more free" (39-40). These lines are seen as the speaker's expression of his anger or resentment towards the instructor, white people in general, or the upper hand that they seem to hold in American culture. When he says, "Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me./ Nor do I often want to be a part of you" (34-35), it is in the context of stating that he and his instructor (and perhaps black Americans and white Americans) are connected in ways that they cannot help, and that even though they may not like it sometimes, it doesn't change that fact.

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