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“Theme for English B” begins with some words of a college professor instructing his students to write a paper that “will be true.” After this is said the speaker questions if this assignment is really “that simple.” As he reflects on his life before writing his assignment, he enlightens the reader of his current status in America. He is a mere “twenty-two, colored” college student; more importantly he is the “only colored student” in his class.
After approaching the “Harlem Branch Y,” and returning to his apartment, the speaker begins his paper.
He reflects on his life as an average twenty-two year old student. He begins to ignore race and tries to focus on his individuality. He likes “a pipe for a Christmas present or records-Bessie, bop, or Bach.” This sentence provides a perfect example of alliteration. Keeping in mind to “let that page come out of you–/Then, it will be true”, the speaker is honest with himself and tries not to hide behind the “white” page.
He identifies with his culture and lets the reader “see and hear, Harlem”. This poem shows the speaker’s “true” feelings towards society, how some white people “don’t want to be a part of me”. He reflects on the present state of blacks in America, racism, and most importantly the oppression he feels as a black student stating that “white” people are “somewhat more free”. I believe Hughes wrote this poem as a protest against racism. Through his speaker, Hughes desperately pleads with his readers to strive for a unified America free of racism.
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