The following sample essay on while writing a paper for his English class, Langston Hughes, the only African American in the class, explores equality in a stream of conscious, three paragraph poem. In “Theme for English B,” Hughes expresses that all races influence each other and should be treated and considered equal as Americans. Hughes discusses the similarities between the different races in America and writes his paper questioning if “its that simple” to overcome segregation issues. After telling of his African American background, Hughes tells of his interests and hobbies.
He likes simple and universal things such as eating, sleeping, drinking, working, reading, and learning. Hughes shares his interests to show that his likes are not weird or different from a typical White’s interests. Hughes shows the similarities because he believes that if two men appear to be the same, they should be equal no matter the color of their skin. If both a Black and White man like to learn, they should equate each other and be able to obtain the same schooling, according to Hughes.
Hughes also mentions he likes to “understand life. His paper discusses life and his understanding of Americans as a race in itself, without a color determining how “American” a person is. His want to understand life shows Hughes’ urge to think deeper than the superficial meaning of things. However, in reality, Blacks and Whites did not have the same social status, hence Hughes’ question “I wonder if its that simple” to achieve equality.
Hughes continues on and alludes to his music selection to show his credibility on the subject of segregation. He listens to “Bessie, bop, or Bach. Hughes listening to Bessie Smith, a Blues singer, shows Hughes’ African taste in music while Bach, a German composer, shows Hughes’ well cultured side. Hughes not only likes typical music stereotyped with his race, but music that would be considered “White” or “higher class” music. Hughes’ interest in Bach conveys that Hughes is educated and making insightful comments on how he views society and its racial problems. Hughes music choice helps add credibility to his paper. Hughes simply questions why unnecessary segregation exists in America when all races intertwine.
Throughout the poem, Hughes familiarizes the races with one another. Hughes again intertwines races through his syntax in “I hear you: hear you, hear me– we two– you, me, talk on this page. ” The repetition of words and consonants that sound alike causes the sentence to run together, as if to symbolize the different races “running together” as one. The syntax causes the reader to stumble and focus on the sentence. Hughes wants to show that he hears others and wants others to listen to him and the ideas he has. Both the Whites and himself “talk on page” for this class and Hughes uses this to show the connection between the two. Hughes also says this to convey that the two races can “hear” each other. They do not speak different languages and can perfectly communicate with one another. Hughes shows the communication as another similarity between the two races, reiterating that the two should be equal. Hughes asks his teacher if his page will be colored like himself. He attempts to show his teacher the complications in ending segregation.
Despite the fact that Hughes reveals all these truths about the similarities between the two races, his page will not be true and separation still exists. Hughes adds that his paper will “be a part of you, instructor,” telling his teacher that his paper has valuable lessons and significance. Hughes wants to influence his White teacher as a Black student, continuing the interracial learning as Hughes thinks this links “Americans” together and equal. The two races connect even though colors show differently. Hughes realizes that even though his page came “out of him,” it will not be true like his teacher said.