Theme For English B Figurative Language

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At some point in our lives, most of us have judged a book by its cover. In other words, we have held prejudice against each other based on our outward appearances, but rarely considered what lies beneath the surface. In Langston Hughes’ 1959 poem “Theme for English B”, a professor assigns a speaker, a young African-American male college student, a one-page composition in which the student can write about a topic of their choosing. The speaker chooses to write about how, despite being African-American in a mostly white class, he is simply human just like everyone else. The craft of “Theme for English B”, including the sound, rhythm, tone, form, and figurative language of the poem, demonstrate the writer’s message that despite our differences,…show more content…
While analyzing a work of literature, one can describe them as symbols, which contain subtle meanings and make critical references to elements of real life. The writer of “Theme for English B” uses the word “hear” five times in the third stanza, granting it significant symbolism. The poem reads, “I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you. / hear you, hear me” (18-20). The speaker wants his instructor as well as others who read his composition to listen to and fully understand him. In his opinion, his ethnicity should not factor in one’s perception of him. As far as he is concerned, he is more than just a young, African-American male━he is a normal human being. A recurring image in the poem is a mention of “the Y”, which refers to the Young Men’s Catholic Association, more famously known as the YMCA. In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker mentions, “I come to the Y, / the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator / up to my room” (13-15). The YMCA is a community center filled with a variety of programs tailored to both adults and children. Given the speaker occupies a room in the center, the YMCA likely doubled as a homeless shelter. It was probably incredibly difficult for African-Americans to obtain affordable housing in the mid-20th century, which further demonstrates the racial disparity between blacks and whites at that time. That the speaker uses the word “hear” and mentions a shelter multiple times in the second stanza places a great urgency on talking to one another about our daily lives, despite our
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