The Meaning Of Identity In 'Theme For English B'

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Identity is perceived differently in “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, “Won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton, and “Identity”by Noboa Polanco; yet all different interpretations of the announced word agree that one’s identity defines an individual. Throughout these poems, different aspects of identity are explored with the use ofvarious literary devices to further reveal its true definition according to the author. While in one poem, race does not contribute to one’s identity, in another, it is argued that your race defines you as an individual, whereas the third poem argues that individuality and uniqueness is best. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, identity is “distinguishing character or personality of an individual”,…show more content…
The essence and meaning of identity is clearly communicated by Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Noboa Polanco in “Theme for English B”, “Won’t you celebrate with me” and “Identity” through the following literary devices: imagery, allusion, anaphora, rhetorical question, diction, metaphor and simile. Through the use of imagery, allusion, and repetition in “Theme for English B”, Langston Hughes presents race as incapable of defining an individual. One’s race does not accommodate for their identity, and should not be reason to segregate. The following poem discusses the dilemma of a colored student, who shares his understanding of identity throughout the poem. Failure to truly comprehend the “simple” assignment of writing a “page (come) out of you” (4) results in the persona’s internal struggle to translate his identity into words. The poet hints at a sense of isolation and abnormality, through the use of imagery in “the only colored student in my class” (Hughes, line 10). The line depicts the racial ethnicity of the persona, and heightens the sense of individuality. The appeal to one’s sight in the use of imagery provokes an image of the clear contrast of being one against all. The uniqueness of being colored among a mass of white builds…show more content…
Race is distinctly a thought formed by society, but through it, one builds their identity. Clifton describes the hardship she had to endure as she struggled to “shape” her identity, yet has succeeded. Despite the obstacles and judgments faced, she prevailed; she survived. The deviant draws attention to her hand through the anaphora “my/my” (10 - 11), emphasizing that it is uniquely two hands in use -- one “holding tight” and the other celebrating. This signifies that the persona feels isolated and left without company, and minimal support. However, the faint sense of individuality and independence the line provides can be easily detected. Moreover, Clifton raises the ambiguous issue of race and gender, in her rhetoric “won’t you celebrate with me”, clearly raising a point that no reason is explanation enough. The inequality and injustice faced renders the perceived timid and apologetic tone seemingly sarcastic. This further enlightens the author’s perception of identity, as she believes that underneath each is simply human. More importantly, the hardships endured when one is female, added on to the injustice faced when one is colored, reminds the reader that certain identities are harder to form, as “models” of such identities are not
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