An Autobiography of a Columbia University Student, Langston Hughes

862 WordsJul 11, 20184 Pages
“Theme for English B” at surface value is the autobiography of a well-educated, twenty-two year old college student at Columbia University. This autobiography is in response to an assignment given by the student’s professor. The assignment provides a way for the speaker to address his feelings to his classmates about the unjust treatment he receives at school. This young man is African-American and although his references to his race could be taken as basic facts about himself, they mirror his struggles with the racism, inequality, and feelings of inadequacy he deals with. The poem’s author, Langston Hughes, uses his personal experiences from his childhood, his time spent in Harlem, and his time at Columbia University to create the main…show more content…
When Hughes was in first grade he was the only ‘colored’ student at his school. During that time, his teachers and classmates treated him as an outcast and treated him as inferior to them. (Lonely 2). The speaker does not show any obvious signs of loneliness but it is probable that given Hughes’ experiences, the speaker also deals with loneliness and isolation due to the other students treating him differently because of his outward appearances rather than trying to connect with him on a deeper level. Although not specifically mentioned in the poem, this poem could be a way for the speaker to reach out to his peers. He mentions his likes, all similar to people of both his race and the opposite race and seems to beg for acceptance from his classmates. Along with struggling with his race, the speaker also mentions difficulties in finding his identity. This is much like Hughes, who because he grew up in schools that were mainly white students, felt as if he did not connect with his fellow African-Americans. In lines twenty-five through twenty-nine, the speaker struggles with whether his race will influence his paper being considered ‘white’ or ‘colored’ when read by his peers. He believes that because he enjoys similar things to what white people enjoy and because his audience is also white, his paper will be a mixture of the two cultures. Hughes also faced this problem with his writings because although he had
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