Racial Identity, By Langston Hughes And Zora Neale Hurston Essay

1376 Words Nov 4th, 2016 6 Pages
Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, authors during the Harlem Renaissance, used their poetry and short stories to challenge ideas about race and the division it caused in America. The narrators in Hughes’ “Theme for English B” and Hurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” are both in the process of exploring their racial identities, yet while the narrator in Hurston’s story embraces her differences, the speaker in Hughes’ poem is more focused on questioning the aspects that cause him and his white classmates to differ. Nonetheless, Hughes and Hurston both use a common theme of racial identity as well as symbolism and the use of metaphor, to explain the struggle of being African-American in the 20th century. In Hughes’ poem “Theme for English B,” the narrator is tasked with an assignment to write about himself, in a class where he is the only colored student. His professor, a white man, tells his class to “let that page come out of you,” yet the narrator wonders if it’s going to be that simple. (880) The area of the South the speaker is from, where racism is a predominant issue, causes him to reflect on what it means to be an African-American citizen. The speaker begins by identifying himself with where he grew up and where he currently lives, “born in Winston-Salem / …then Durham, then here to this college on the hill above Harlem.” (880) In Harlem, because it was, and still is a cultural area for African-Americans, he feels much more comfortable there, as it allows…

Related Documents