Discussion questions – Hughes
Langston Hughes is the most famous African-American poet to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, having earned the title of “the Bard of Harlem.” Throughout the 1920s, a young Hughes moved from one occupation to the next and his time as a sailor enabled him to travel abroad. During this time, he was achieving success and gaining financial support from white patrons as an up and coming black poet. After earning a B.A. from Lincoln University in 1929, he moved to Harlem, where he lived for the rest of his life. His 1930 novel, Not without Laughter, made him a literary star and allowed him financial independence. In the 1930s, he became a communist radical and was eventually called to testify to Congress in the infamous McCarthy hearings (1953). Throughout his career, Hughes urged his fellow artists to create specifically black art; however, he utilized literary forms and traditions from Europe and Britain (which made him part of the Modernist movement). Nonetheless he was a pioneer in black poetry by mixing the rhythms of jazz into his poetry.
1. Hughes’s “Theme for English B” is an example of a modernist poem that is suspicious of trying to tell us what is truth. Hughes is asked by his English teacher to “let the page come out of you” and that this page “will be true.” However, while Hughes tries to follow the suggestion and write a true poem, the poem itself undermines the idea that Hughes can, by himself only, say what is really true about himself only. The truth is too complicated.
Find 2 passages (at least 3 lines each) that reveal Hughes’s struggle to tell a kind of truth that is simple, easy and that belongs only to him.
Please use the Answer Sandwich method to answer each question. The passages you add to your answer should be around 2-4 sentences long. Please include a page reference.
Keep in mind that I may select any of these questions to be the upcoming quiz question. Also, I use these discussion questions to create the exams and the major paper assignment. So do your best on each question.
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