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Theme For English B - Langston Hughes

Created 6 years, 6 months ago by Carl M.

Read the text: "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes
Answer the following questions:

According to the Princeton University Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics Author's Voice seeks to:
"...characterize the tonal qualities, attitudes, or even the entire personality of this speaker as it reveals itself directly or indirectly (through sound, choice of diction, and other stylistic devices)…[voice] reminds us that a human being is behind the words of a poem, that he is revealing his individuality by means of the poem, and that this revelation may be the most significant part of what we receive from the poem."

Identify which section of the poem is part of the "page" that Hughes writes for his instructor, and which section represents the thoughts in his mind just before he begins to write. What are the differences between that first stanza, representing the poet's thoughts to himself as he contemplates the assignment, and the subsequent stanzas, which express how he presents himself to an audience, in this case his instructor? List some of things that Hughes includes in his self-presentation. How does the author convey his voice through his self-presentation?

27 Replies

  • Cindy R.
    Cindy1018's Icon
    Theme For English B. • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    My Analysis: The narrator's assignment is to obviously write a paper, but express himself when writing it. He announces right away that he is a twenty-two year old colored man who resides in Harlem but has lived somewhere else prior to New York. He is the only colored person in his class which makes it seem that he isn't so sure what to write about, so he lets loose with the feeling he currently has on his mind. He mentions what he enjoys doing which doesn't make it seem any different from anybody else from another race.

    -I believe that the whole entire poem is his assignment, especially where he states what his instructor told the class to do. However, from stanza two until the end is where his thoughts come about.

    -The difference between the first stanza and the subsequent stanzas is that he seems confused in the beginning. He's trying to figure out if writing the assignment would be simple especially when he is the only colored person in his class. As for the subsequent stanzas, his ideas and feelings spread throughout the paper.

    -The author's voice in the poem starts off slightly worried and confused then becomes confident and satisfied.

  • Tiana Q.
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    Theme for english b • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Analysis: The author takes the instructors assignment to heart. He talks more about himself and his race then something small like things he likes, or likes to do. The author speaks mostly about the similarities between two different race, black and white, to show how he feels everyday in class surrounded by all white students and a white teacher. He chooses this topic to write about because it is something that he goes though everyday so it is true to his heart and feeling. The only reason he goes into the things he likes is to prove that he isn’t so different from the white students in his class.
    -I believe that the whole poem is the page that Hughes has to write for his instructor. Since the assignment is to write something that comes from himself, Hughes rights all his thoughts at the time down because that is his true self. Although I believe the whole paper is his assignment I also believe that the first two stanza’s were what he was thinking before he actually decided what he was really going to write about because after the second stanza there is a colon, which seems to represent the start are a new idea.
    -The difference between the two stanzas is that Hughes isn’t sure what exactly he should be writing about in the first stanza. He is confused as to what exactly the assignment is and what he should actually be writing about. All he does is talk about himself because at first he believes that is something coming out of himself like the instructor wants. The subsequent stanza starts going into the something that he really wants to write. Although both stanzas are about him the subsequent stanza has a deeper meaning instead of just a list of facts.
    -Some of the things Hughes includes in his self-presentation are his race, current home, things he enjoys, things he wants, his past, and his ideas about his race and the white race. At first his voice seems confused and uncertain but once you get into the poem more he starts to sound confident and satisfied about what he chose to write about.

  • Farhya N.
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    My Analysis: • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    --One thing we know about the author is that he's a twenty-two year old who goes to an all white school. He was given an assignment much rather personal. In the poem, he discusses more about what makes the different races alike and how he feels about it. In my opinion, I think he chose to write about the races because in now in schools, stuff like this happens.
    --At first he was confused, so lost out of place and didn't know what to write about but as he goes on and on,he started to go in depth about what makes both races similar. As he goes on, he started to tell us about how he grew up and where he went to school. He is somewhat proud of who he is.

  • Rachel H.
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    My Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Analysis: In the beginning of the poem the speaker discusses how they're supposed to write a page. The page is supposed to come from his heart, that way it's the truth. At first it seems like the speaker doesn't know what to write, but as he continues to write how he truly feels comes out. Speaker starts off with basic facts about himself such as, his age, where he was raised, and where he went to school. The speaker briefly mentions how he's colored, and then goes into further detail about how he is the only colored student in the class. In the second stanza the speaker really begins to write for the teacher. The speaker starts discussing who they are, and what they like, eventually back to the subject of color. The speaker makes a point to say they can like the same things as other races. It appears that the speaker is afraid that because of his color the teacher will treat him differently. In the last stanza the speaker says how just because the teacher is white doesn't make them different. The speaker suggests they have a bond, and that maybe sometimes they won't want to have this bond, but they will. They both learn from each other, no matter their age, or skin color.
    -The last two stanzas are part of the page for the instructor, and the first stanzas are the thoughts in his mind before he begins writing.
    -The difference between that first stanza and the other stanzas are that in the first stanza the speaker writes very simple things. He doesn't talk about who he is in the first stanza, just details about his life. In the second stanza he begins talking about who he is, and his views.
    -In his self-presentation Hughes includes his age, how he is colored. Hughes also includes how he likes to eat, sleep, drink, be in love,read, work, learn, understand life, and how he wants a pipe for Christmas, or records. The author is using self-presentation to convey how things he has common with other races, that just because he's colored doesn't mean he can't enjoy those things.

  • Inas A.
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    My Analysis: • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    -In the beginning the speaker tells us that he is given an assignment to write about them selves. In the first stanza, the speaker is very confused about what to write about. The speaker starts to tell us where he grew up, and where he went to school, the little things about his life. As he progresses on, the reader starts to see that he is starting to develop what they want to write in their assignment. The speaker starts to talk about his skin color, and what he likes to do. The speakers go on to talk about things he like, but eventually turns the things he likes back to the color of his skin. In the final stanza, the speaker starts to feel comfortable with him and their skin color. He sees him no different than from any other race, especially the Caucasian race.
    -The first stanza and a half are his thoughts, because he starts to list stuff about college, and that he “Like to eat, sleep, drink, work, read, learn…” It’s the simple things in his life, but then in the last stanza and the last lines of the second stanza, he starts to refer to the color of his skin. That is to the instructor, because the speaker starts to know what they are going to write about in their assignment, which is his race, and how he is not different from any other person just because of their skin color.
    -The difference between the two stanzas is that he starts of confused about the assignment, and how it’s not as simple as it seems. The speaker talks about the simple things in life. But then he starts to be confident in his writing when the speaker starts talking about the color of their skin, and his views on the world.
    -His self-presentation he states his race, age, hometown, college, likes, and music. All these things show that he isn’t different from any other race, because at the end he states “You are white—yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.” He is saying that he is just like any other white person, with the same common interest.

  • Eric S.
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    Response • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    "The instructor said," is the first words Hughes begins his poem with, and such words are the prelude to his expression, an expression that is written in a first person point of view and also presents or introduces the poet's personal thoughts. The first stanza repeats the assignment instructed by the poets professor, followed by Hughes regards to the complexity of the assignment, thinking to himself and expressing to the audience that the assignment is rather not quite easy hence his own questioning "I wonder if it's that simple?" In this introductory to this stanza, Hughes then responds to his own question by describing himself and sharing some of his background to readers, but more importantly he declares his race right away.
    This stanza is essentially where Hughes begins to write for his instructor although I also believe the whole poem is intended for the instructor. Since the manner in which the poem is written is clearly first person, readers would also assume that the instructor is not indeed the sole audience, considering that Hughes writes what would be obvious to his instructor, "the instructor said...," and "this is my page for English B."
    The third stanza simply refers to himself, although it is also intended for the instructor read. In the last stanza, it is clear that Hughes continues to convey his personal thoughts but this stanza goes deep in to his thoughts, from the heart as the stanza is directed to his main audience (instructor,) in which he describes the relationship between the two. True to his personal thoughts and showing his feelings, Hughes goes as far as even saying, "nor do I often want to be a part of you," which really shows that Hughes is indeed expressing his inner thoughts. In all, Hughes realizes that besides their differences, there is still a sort of mutual relationship despite his desires to be detached from his instructor.

  • Leidy C.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The whole poem is intended for the instructor, but it’s mainly the last two stanzas that show what the instructor was looking. By including his inner thoughts we see the shift towards what he intended to be for the instructor.
    Speaker contemplates his instructor assignment, to write this page that comes out of him, and that way “it will be true”. He is puzzled by what that means; in the second stanza he clearly says he is just twenty-two. How he can know what this white instructor wants if he is colored and view differently? On the following stanza the speaker brings out the idea that if he is colored and the rest of his class isn’t, this paper will be different. Since the paper would be different he wonders if it still be true. He again mentions his age and how not even the professor at that age would know if what his page comes out to be would be true. He shifts his focus to what I see shows what “came out of him”, mentioning what he hears around him, what enjoys and likes: Harlem, being in love, sleeping, and records. Listing what he enjoys he develops that he isn’t much different from any other person from a different race.
    On the last stanza the speaker mentions this bond that the instructor has with him, and that is being American. They have parts of each other such as same interest, they are not completely different. Though they have things common they are also different in some ways that they are able to learn from each other.

  • Gilbert T.
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    Theme For English B Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The entire poem, in some way, is meant for the professor. The difference between the first stanza and the subsequent stanzas because the first stanza he is thinking to himself, kind of hiding from the "audience" while in the next stanzas he seems to break out of his shell and speak his mind with confidence and belief in what he is saying.
    This poem has a lot of examples that show, no matter the way you look, that we all ARE equal. Hughes shows us this in the third stanza when he starts to name the things he likes, which don't seem different from the things any other person from that time would like. In lines 25 and 26, he shows us a good example that the color of his skin doesn't make him as different as he was viewed back in those times.
    Hughes is a poet who's work will always be referenced to because the messages in all of his poems connect with us in so many ways.

  • Abena A.
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    My Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The presence of a question at the beginning of the first stanza, portrays a sense of contemplation the speaker is going through within his inner self. Hughes makes his voice be heard by giving his readers an insight of his inner thoughts when he places the question: "I wonder if it's simple?".
    As the poem progresses, the speaker gives his audience a general idea of who he is, making we as the readers have a broad sense of knowledge as to what he might be writing about. As seen in the first stanza going into half of the second stanza, the speaker seems to be confused and looks more like he is brainstorming on his ideas.
    But as the poem develops, the subsequent stanzas have a more confident tone to it. As to he gets more into depth with his ideas. This is where he mentions of his likes, hobbies and speaks of the race issue. In stating about the race, Hughes voice is best felt for has a more opinionative attitude towards it. This makes his overall self presentation effecttive for at the end, the readers are given the impression that, no matter our race we learn from each some way somehow.

  • Samantha O.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Hughes begins his page when he ends stanza three with "up to my room, sit down,and write this page:", but the following stanza is not the entirely what he writes. He "flip flops" from his thoughts to what he's writing. During his walk home he begins to think how he would begin to write about himself and can only come up with basic facts, where he was from, his age and his race. As he's home he gets into the topic on a deeper level, saying he is a part of the city and the city is a part of him. He explains that although he is the only man of color
    in his class he is not so different in what he enjoys doing like any other man of a different race.
    The author puts his voice in by not making the page so formal. You can hear in your mind that it sounds like a normal conversation, as if he was speaking directly to the instructor.

  • Kenneth C.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The first stanza was about Langston Hughes; where he introduces himself, where he's from, where he lived, where he did his early studies. He explains where he began college. The paper was written in 1951, which explains why he is the only colored man in his class. That was when segregation was an enormous issue in the United States.
    After line 18, the second stanza, is where the "page" really starts. At the end of his thought process, he begins to explain who he really is, his individuality. Lines 21-27 are the perfect example of what he wants to say, that being colored doesn't make him different, from those of other races.
    In the last stanza he tells his instructor that he is aware of their differentiability by races, but them being just one people. Meaning that they might not get along, they are the same, but are not treated as such.
    Langston Hughes uses this assignment, to show who he really is. As an individual, overcoming the issues of his time as a person; and what is true to be a colored twenty-two year old in Harlem.

  • Christian F.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The first stanza represents part of the " page " Mr. Hughes has wrote ffor his intructor, the other stanzas represent facts of himself, in the other stanzas he states his age, ethnicity and speaks of where he is from, during those times, it was a milestone for a man of his culture to be in his shoes, he knows he is diffrent, but accepts it

  • Violeta F.
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    theme for english b analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    -The part of the poem of the page is in the second stanza. In the second stanza he says his age, where he lives and things that he like. He expresses his thoughts that he has before writing the paper in the first stanza. In the first stanza, he shows that he was bewildered and didnt know what to write.
    -The difference of the first stanza and the subsequent stanzas are that in the first stanza, he doesnt know what to write for his assignment. And then in the subsequent stanzas he begins to write about himself, what he likes, and his thoughts.
    -Some things he include in his self presentation are his age, race, places he lived and been, and the fact that he is the only colored student in his class.

  • Clare P.
    Clare's Icon
    My Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The first stanza is where Hughes' professor gives him his assignment to write a paper seemingly about himself or what he may be passionate about. ("Let that page come out of you-- Then, it will be true.") Hughes begins to ponder what he's going to write about. He thinks about his race, and the differences between him and his classmates and proffesor. In second stanza, his page truly begins, as he begins to describe himself to the professor. He tries his best to convey that he is more than just a colored male, that he is a unique person just like any other person. He enjoys reading, learning, and trying to understand life. He enjoys music, such as Bach. Because of these things, he makes the point that having a different race doesn't necessarily mean people can't enjoy the same things. He also questions about if he is colored, will his written work be considered colored because it was not written by a white? All of these characteristics he assigns to himself and important questions about race convey him as a smart, critically thinking individual who is non-judgemental of race.

  • Adrienne G.
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    My analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    I believe the entire poem is intended for the instructor. It seems like he does not think about what he will write before he does he just puts all of his thoughts on the page.
    In the first stanza, he simply writes down the instructions for his assignment. It might be his way of gathering his thoughts.
    In contrast, he takes the instructors words to heart in the following stanza and "let's the page come out of him". He begins to a few write simple facts about himself and what he has recently done, on his why home from college. He presents himself to the audience as a twenty-two year old college student, who is the only colored student in his class.
    He begins to truly convey his voice in the last two stanza's. He thinks about who he really is and if he paper will truly reflect that. Although he is aware of the differences between himself, being young and colored and his teacher, being older and white, he feels they are both American and therefore they are a part of eachother.

  • Rebecca R.
    Rebecca_R_94's Icon
    Rebecca R. • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Analysis- In the begining of the poem the speaker lacks confidence in what to write. He was unsure about how to write a "page" and make it to himself. he begins revealing who he is. The speaker is 22, colored and now lives in Harlem. As he continues n his "page" the mean of true becomes more clear to him. He explains that even though he is colored he still likes the same things people of other races like. Then he write about how is "page" is not only apart of him but also apart of his instuctor. Apart that they both share which is American despite all their dfferences.
    -The speaker's assignment is to write a page but it has to be about whats true inside you. The speaker starts his "page" when he write "I wonder if its that simple?"
    -The difference between stanza one and the subsequent stanzas is that he is unsure of what the instructor wants him to write about. As the stanzas go on he becomes more understanding as to what the instuctor wanted in his page.

  • Yesenia O.
    YeseniaOrdonez94's Icon
    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Hughes begins his poem with simple instuctions from his teacher; "write a page.. and let that page come out of you." (fist stanza) the speaker then begins to determine on whether or not the assighnment is as easy or simple as his instructior implies. The second stanza represents is thought precess before he actually begins the assignment. While brainstroming(second stanza, the speaker begins with a short self discrption concerning his college experiences; taking into consideration his instructor's words which were "And let that page come out of you-- then, it will be true." -The speaker's thoughts to himsef are different from the subsequent stanzas because his self refection in the second stanza only discribe a small segment of his life wich is college and being the only "colored" in his class, The subsequent stanzas go much more in depth in reference to his emotional standpoints and struggles. Hughes realizes that although he is a man of color, both him and the "white man" share some of the same, natural human qualities and emotions; the need to sleep, the need to eat and the need to love, he believes that being a man of color shouldn't deprive him of any wisdom or knowledge that he is entitled to gain because the blood that flows through his vains is the same blood that flows through the vains of any white man. A strong sense of liberation and authority is conveyed through his self presentation.

  • Joshua R.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Hughes is portraying the character in this poem as a colored man who now lives in Harlem New York and attends college there. In the beginning of the poem, he starts off by introducing himself a little and showing what he is suppossed to write about.He seems to doubt himself to a simple task as writing a "page". The topic of the page Hughes seems to focus on is being the only colored person in his class. Continuing he expresses things more about himself like the way he enjoys working, reading, learning, etc just like most people around him of other races do. But seeing that he is a colored man, he doesn't believe what he is writing will mean anything to anybody but his race although he shares the same views as others. He is aslo confused about whether or not does him being colored make whatever he writes or expresses is nothing more than just another colored voice that no one bothers to hear or pay mind too although it reflects what they believe as well( shown when he says "So will my page be colored that i write? Being me , it will not be white."). The point he is trying to get across is that color of someone's skin doesn't reflect their views, statements and beliefs. Hughes also shows how the page "comes out of him" being true when he compares himself to his instructor. He writes that the only one that might understand is his instructor although he may not want to. Finally he shows that a man of color can be just as american as any white man, and that they too can learn and have the same views as a man of color even if they are older or white.

  • tejnarine s.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Hughes begins his poem for the instructor with the line "It's not easy to know what is true for you or me". The First stanza is where he brainstorms and gets his toughts together. It works to some extent because he Says alot of this about himself in his poem to the instructor but, it seems random. Still he shows emotions which is what makes the poem worth it. The line "I guess being colored doesn't make me NOT like
    the same things other folks like who are other races." puts you in his shoes so you know what its like to be discriminated against. Since racism is something thats still going on today, this poems message can last forever.

  • Amado S.
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    My Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    The "page" that is intended to be for the instructor starts out in stanza three and on but, at first is as if he wasn´t as sure on what to write about in the second stanza. The speaker seems to feel as if his life isn´t as important as others maybe because of his color. I say this because he repeats that he´s colored and tries to assure the instructor that he is like anybody else because he likes what other colored people like as well and it makes him American like everybody else. Just like he sleeps, eats, and loves, so does the instructer who is white. I say the speaker tries to make himself known by saying he shouldn´t be discriminated because he´s colored. He tries to explain in his paper that colored or not, people have the same interests. When the speaker stated that if his paper would be colored because he wrote it, the speaker meant as if asking is his paper was going to get discriminated just because he wrote it.

  • Tatiyana G.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    I believe the poet himself took this writting assignment literal and to heart. The instructor said in stanza 1 line 4 and 5 "and let that page come out of you-- then, it will be true". The poet simply took the task and turned into something he believed beyond what the instructor probably wasn't expecting. The poet might have took this as an opportunity to express how he felt being the only colored person in the class as he states in stanza 2 line 10. Being the only colored person, taking college courses in a room full of caucasin people that maybe thinks he doesn't carry the intelligence that soceity makes out most blacks don't have. Maybe the poet thought his instructor would think he would write something that he wanted to hear because he felt he needed to, as he explains in stanza 3 line 25-27 "I guess being colored doesn't make me not like
    the same things other folks like who are other races. So will my page be colored that I write?" As i stated before i believe the poet took the opportunity to express himself freely of whats been going on in his conscious.

  • Genesis U.
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    Analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    At the beginning of the poem, the author questions himself on whether it is that easy to write poem, he doesn't know what he's going to write about or how he is going to write about it.However, after the first two stanzas the author makes a poem on the way he feels about completing the assignment for someone who is not like him. The author believes it's really difficult to write for someone who is not the way he is, and who sees things a different way. The author's self-presentation becomes the poem while he explains to his instructor that even though he's paper won't be "white" they are a part of each other even if they come from different races.

  • Mariana A.
    strawvewie's Icon
    My analysis • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    Based on the poem… I believe the narrator feels disconnected from everyone else in his class, left behind and different to everyone, this is because of his race. Everyone else in the class is white and he is the only colored man, therefore he thinks that because he is different he doesn’t think the same as everyone else, he feels that whatever he concludes to is not what the others have in mind. I also see a persevering person, someone who doesn’t give up and always tries his best. I came to this conclusion because regardless of the fact that he thinks he is different he still in school doing his work and assignments even if he thinks he is alone and might not be right. I believe the third stanza is what the instructor really asked for since he gives nothing, but facts about his life and details of the things he feels, as the instructor said “And let that page come out of you - Then, it will be true.” means he wanted to read true facts of the way he felt inside not something made up. The thoughts in his mind, before he began to write the page are in stanza 2 as he says at the end of the stanza.. “where I take the elevator up to my room, sit down, and write this page: “ all he was thinking about before the assignment was his life and the way he lived. The difference between the first stanza and the rest of the poem is that at the beginning he mentions the words of the instructor, and as the poem proceeds he starts doubting what the assignment really is and whether if his race of color has something to do with this assignment. He not only doubts himself since he also approaches the instructor, he is not looking down on himself since he says and mentions that each has something to learn from one another. At the end of the poem I see a person who knows he might not be what every one else expects to be since his color of skin is not the same, yet he doesn’t put himself down, instead he mentions that everyone else is also not the way he expects them to be.

  • Danielle B.
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    My repsonse. • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    In reading this poem, I feel that the author was alternating between what he wrote in his "page" and his inner thoughts. For example, I think when he said "I wonder if it's that simple?" and the last four lines of that stanza were inner thoughts. Lines 2-4 sounds like something he wrote in the paper and not just for the readers. Thereafter, I feel that the poet gets lost in his thoughts in the rest of the poem except for when he says "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?". I strongly believe the poet writes this and nothing more. After these lines in the poem, I believe that after wards, the remainder of the poem are inner thoughts, thoughts that were not shared on paper.

    The first stanza of the poet's thoughts were calm and collected. His thoughts seem to skimmed the surface of something deeper. He spoke of his race and where he came from and who he was. He did not express the importance of how his race played a role in going to the various schools he went to and neighborhood. In the following stanza, the poet's thoughts get deeper- so deep that it seems as if the poet questions his identity. The punctuation changes dramatically, giving the poem a different sound. From what I understand, the "page" written was not from him as the teacher had asked but more of an artificially written paper. The author states "Being me, it will not be white./
    But it will be/ a part of you, instructor"- referring to the paper written. This lets me know that through all the contemplation of what should be written, the poet writes a "page" in that would be acceptable in his professor's eyes.

    The author clearly projects his voice through his precise language and punctuation used throughout the poem. The way he uses commas, questions marks and periods make the author's voice clear.

  • Chrstina L.
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    Random Reply • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    This is me trying to post. Hi

  • Adrianna R.
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    ello • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    I love llamas. especially ones with hats. and cats. that rhymed. haha.

  • dennis a.
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    "Theme for English B" • Posted 6 years, 6 months ago. #

    "Theme for English B"
    By Langston Hughes

    Hughes’s voice on this poem sounds more of him being stereotypical. This is because, he described the nature of a white and colored man and how they can all learn from each other. For-instance, “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 Bach.” This quote gives a clear definition of how an average colored man leaves his life.

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Carl Manalo

Herbert H. Lehman HS in Bronx, NY