Comparing Theme For English B And The White City

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In the poem “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes and “The White City” by Claude Mckay, there is a shared topic of race and the minorities’ experience. The authors of the poems use their speakers tone/personality. imagery, and setting to make a statement on the social disadvantage placed on minority races by the majority. The theme of these two pieces is holding on to your cultural identity even in an oppressive, white-washed society. The speakers of these two poems focus on the same topic, but discuss it with very different tones. The speaker in “Theme for English B” is a college student who feels alienated because he is the only person of color in his class. He knows first hand the experience of racism— how he was made to feel lesser, …show more content…

In “Theme for English B” the speaker is, at first, just outside of Harlem at his school— Columbia University— and then he makes his way through Harlem, to his room in an upper-level of the city’s YMCA. Hughes chooses Harlem because it is such a crucial place in the history of prominence of black artists and musicians, even through oppression and segregation minorities were able to build themselves up and show how powerful they, and their culture, truly are. “‘Theme for English B’ is considered to be representative of Hughes’s unique talent for portraying the ramifications of racial strife on the interior life of the individual as well as on the social fabric of America.” (Explanation). Mckay doesn’t give specific details on the exact city where the poem takes place, but it can be assumed the city he is in is not Harlem, more, the city he wishes to reside in is Harlem. “And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell.” (Mckay 7). By this Mckay’s speaker is referring to Harlem as his safe haven, and because it is where he can truly come alive and prosper, white people would surely reject it. The “White City” in which Mckay’s speaker is currently found is nonetheless beautiful, but the speaker does not feel the safety and positivity the Harlem provided for many, especially during the Harlem Renaissance. The city was booming with art and culture during the Renaissance, and this gave a sense of freedom to many people of color that felt entrapped and disparaged in the country founded on Rights and Liberties— which were freedoms that seemed to only belong to white people at the

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