Summary and Response for “Theme for English B”

The poem “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, describes a black writing a one-page assignment about self, given to him by a white English instructor. The speaker takes on the assignment questioning its simplicity. As the speaker is debating about what is true for Americans, Blacks, and Whites, he takes readers through his life. In stanza 1, the speaker explains that he is the only colored student in a class dominated by white students and highlights that he lives in Harlem, New York. There are irony and sarcasm throughout the poem. In an age characterized by racism, the writer wonders how a page of writing can be true and worthy for both a black student and a white professor (Langston par. 3).

The author is successful in writing about the self and fetching for the truth between Americans, Blacks, and whites. The form of the poem allowed me to connect to it. The author writes the poem in a stream of consciousness style. This type of style allows the author to write the first thing that comes into his mind. The use of questions (line 6) and the description of his journey home (11-14) makes the writing casual thus allowing me to connect with the speaker. I liked the way the writer brings out the irony and sarcasm and connects to issues of racial discrimination. The author feels that it is ironical and wonders how a piece of assignment to be true and meaningful both to a black student and a white instructor. We get from the poem that there may be commonalities between black people and white. I also found the poem interesting because it relates to my life as a college student. Similar to the poet, a typical college student struggles with homework, love and other things in this world. I was touched by the poet’s expression of self.


Work Cited
Langston, Hughes. “Theme for English B.” Poem. 1994.