“James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. Hughes, as a young man, made his career in New York City. Although there are plenty of poems to choose from when discussing Langston Hughes, this paper with do a comparative analysis of Hughes’ Theme for English B and Let America Be America Again. Both poems, Theme for English B and Let America Be American Again, share similarities regarding topics (inequality). Although the topic of inequality is shared between both poems, Theme for English B focuses on the social barrier between the black and white races whereas, Let America Be America Again focuses on the inconsistencies within American society. Both poems address what life looks like for a person of African descent (or a person of color) in comparison to the life of a white person. Expressions throughout both poems are a reflection of African American experience; hardship and frustration.
In Theme for English B, the poem is written from the perspective of a young African American. As previously mentioned, Theme for English B focuses on the social barriers between the black and white races; as well as the stereotypes associated with the two. For the speaker, He reiterates his ethnicity and how he aspires for the better things in life just as any other person would. Although he does not see himself as any different from anyone else, his thoughts, aspirations, and are seen as negative; just as his skin is. Subsequently, the speaker is forced to endure a society is not integrated and refuses to acknowledge his existence as an equal. The Speaker ends the poem by inserting that no matter circumstance or “law of the land” everyone has commonalities that bring them closer than they would like to think.
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In Let America Be America Again, Hughes speaks of the foundational ideas in which America was supposedly built. Rather than expounding of those ideas, Hughes illustrates the inconsistencies within these ideas by referring to his own personal experiences. Hughes expresses his own frustration when he says “There’s never been no equality for me, nor freedom in this “Homeland of the free” (Hughes, 1936). Within this poem, Hughes does not stop at his own personal experiences but uses immigrants and Native Americans to further his message of inconsistencies within the American society.
Although the topic of inequality is shared between, both, Theme for English B and Let America Be America Again, Hughes does a great job of presenting both poems in a way that was still unique. Both, Theme for English B and Let America Be America Again, were created and presented with different approaches.”
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