Analytical Essay of Langston Hughes Poem
Jessica Holmes
Composition III/Literature -ENG 1300 S01
South University Online














Langston Hughes was a writer who wrote during the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes, although one of many black writer's, was considered one of the first black authors. Hughes wrote many poems that covered themes such as, racism, myth, poverty, history, universal freedom, integration, and transitoriness. Hughes 1951 poem, "Theme for English B," speaks of Hughes being the only colored student in his class and wondering if his work will reflect his color. Hughes uses vivid imagery to show that not matter your color, your work only reflects your thoughts, color is not a part of it.
The speaker in, "Theme for English B," is Langston Hughes himself. Through the poem, we learn that Hughes is the only colored student in his class: "I am the only colored student in my class" (Hughes, 1951, line 10). While learning of Hughes being the only colored student in his class, we also learn of Hughes wondering if following the instructor's instructions for the homework assignment would be as simple as it sounded because of his color: "I wonder if it's that simple/ I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem." (Hughes, 1951, lines 6-7). The idea of Hughes going through such angst worrying over his assignment because of his skin color creates some sympathy for the readers. Learning Hughes is the only colored in his class and yet relates to the other students that are not colored by liking some of the same things helps the reader to relate to Hughes. His ability to relate to the instructor by seeing that even though they do not have the same skin color they are still American, "yet a part of me, as I am a part of you./That's American." (Hughes, 1951, lines 32-33), hints at his wanting to relate to the others in his class.
In the poem there are tons of images presented that help create a vivid imagine of being the only colored person in a class and wondering if the work would reflect skin color. We are told in the beginning Hughes is the only colored person in his class (Hughes, 1951). Hughes relates to the others in his class including his instructor (Hughes, 1951). We are also told that both Hughes and his instructor are American and that they would both learn from each other (Hughes, 1951). All of these imagines add up to present the image of the class and one student being different and worrying if his difference will show in his work.
The images presented in the poem contrast to the reader's perception of what really shows in ones work. The first image of the student's angst of what will reflect in his work is, "up to my room, sit down, and write this page: / It's not easy to know what is true for you or me," (Hughes, 1951, lines 15-16). This presents the idea that knowing the truth for one another is difficult. The way Hughes describes how he is what he sees, feels, and hears, shows the reader that he relates more to Harlem or the other colored writers during that time period. "So will my page be colored that I write? / Being me, it will not be white. / But it will be/ a part of you, instructor." (Hughes 1951, lines 27-30). The image of the student wondering if his page will be colored that he writes show the worry of will the work reflect his skin color or his thoughts.
As the images continue we begin to see Hughes relating to his instructor and others of his class. The evidence of this is how he lists his likes and then says he guess's you do not have to have a specific skin color or of a certain race to like those things. (Hughes, 1951). Another image that helps this is the instructor and him being of different skin colors, Hughes colored and the instructor white. Hughes finally relates to his instructor because they are both American and they can learn from each other. (Hughes, 1951). The entire ending of the poem shows how Hughes is beginning to see that his skin