Langston Hughes Poetry Elizabeth Martinez, Alexia Mosqueda, and Michael Rosales
Theme for English B Context Tone In the poem the speaker is telling the reader about a home work assignment for his English B class. The student was told to go home and write a page. The speaker wonders if it’s that simple, not much was handed to him with the teacher’s explanation of: “let the page come from you, then it will be true.” The tone shifts, the way you read this poem or any poem by Langston Hughes, you have to read it like lyrics of a song. Imagine what type of beat would be playing, and that will help you with the tone. The tone at first seems to be almost unsure because the speaker asks "is it really that simple"; to write this paper?...to himself. Then the tone changes to bold because the speaker says that " I'm what I feel and see and hear ".
Theme for English B It’s important to understand that the speaker isn’t at all times Langston. In this poem, the speaker acquires characteristics unlike Langston… therefore it isn’t him, here is where having background knowledge on him can come into play. • At first you might think that Langston Hughes is being racist, but he is only being true, not racist. Due to the time period African Americans were called colored instead. So in the last stanza where the speaker says "I guess being colored doesn't make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races. So will my page be colored that I write? ", first off in the beginning of the poem the speaker states that he is the only 'colored student in his class', so what the speaker is trying to point out is that he feels like an outsider. Second, let’s not forget the significance behind the name of the class, “English B”, it suggests that there is an existent English A class, that could possibly hold higher level students. He's may be different due to his tastes in music, and culture. But that does not make him any less of a person compared to a white man, which he compares himself to throughout the poem.
Night Funeral in Harlem Key Aspects Central Idea of Poem Tone Rhyme Scheme Symbolism Metaphor Tone Shift Simile Paradox A celebration of mutual support, a sense of community. Ending on a happy note, the speaker notices that you don’t need money to make a funeral grand. It shows that even though his friends couldn’t afford the funeral, it still happened. It was simple because that’s all mourners could afford, but their love was what made it grand in the end.
Night Funeral in Harlem Tone Rhyme Scheme Apathetic tone of speaker and his questions such as “where did they get them two fine cars?” and “who preached that black boy to his grave?” may suggest that the speaker is not of the same race as the boy or funeral goers. As well suggests that the speaker is almost asking those questions as insults. 2nd and 4th lines in the first three stanzas rhyme in order to compliment the initial apathetic tone of the speaker. “day and lay” “friends and ends” “away and pray”
Night Funeral in Harlem Symbolism Metaphor “Who was it that sent that wreath of flowers? Them flowers came from the poor boy’s friends they’ll want flowers too when they meet their ends” In this stanza (2) flowers are used as a symbol for sympathy, love, and compassion since flowers are a positive connotation related to affection. Things to remember for this stanza: his friends are most likely poor like him, therefore they step up to pay for things to make his funeral out of their pockets. But did they do this to only receive flowers when they die? “Who preached that black boy to his grave? Old preacher man preached that boy away– Charged five dollars his girl friend had to pay” In the 2nd like of this stanza (3) ‘preached’ is used as a metaphor for guidance, perhaps into the afterlife. In the third line of this stanza ‘Charged Five Dollars’ is all capitalized to place emphasis on the fact that the boy is poor. Things to remember for this stanza: The boy is introduced as a black boy, but up to this point in the poem, it’s already assumed.
Night Funeral in Harlem Shift in Tone Simile The tone shifts from being apathetic to sympathetic when the speaker says “That boy they was mournin’ was so dear, so dear” This repetition of the word “dear” shows that the speaker’s tone has become sympathetic for the loss of the funeral goers. “The street light at his corner shined just like a tear.” – Stanza 4 The speaker uses simile to compare the street light at the boy’s corner to the tears shed for him. Things to remember about this stanza: The speaker is describing everything that has happened throughout the funeral, basically a summary. He no longer asks questions because he no longer has insults.
Night Funeral - Paradox “It was all their tears that made that poor boy’s funeral grand.” - Last stanza • The last three lines of this poem are a paradox because the speaker states that tears are the factor which made the poor boy’s funeral grand. This is a paradox because tears are normally associated with sadness and depression not grandness.
The Weary Blues “droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a negro play.” - Stanza 1 • Alliteration is present here which can almost sound like a mimic of yawning. • “I heard” doesn’t refer to the subject playing. Hughes structures the sentence this way to show the relationship between the singer and the audience as well as the double effect of the music on the performer and the listener.
The Weary Blues Identifying the Speaker Imagery “Down on Lenox Avenue” Line four, first stanza. Lenox Avenue geographically is in New York, considered ‘up town’. Why didn’t the speaker say up? Lenox Ave. was a main street in Harlem of mainly blacks. So by saying ‘down’ readers can assume that the speaker isn’t white. “ebony hands” line nine, first stanza. Jazz/blues is important to the African culture. The ebony hands create an image of black hands on white keys of a piano. The image suggests the way black musicians have taken an instrument of white culture and produced their own artistic expression.
The Weary Blues Personification Symbolism “poor piano moan” –present in lines 10 and 18, both in the first stanza. Hughes uses detail about sounds of music to help the reader feel as if they are there themselves. He personifies the sound of the piano saying that the piano moaned, this allows the reader to understand what it sounded like because moaning is a human action. There are a few colors used throughout his poem that symbolize racial struggle. “pale dull pallor” symbolizes lack of life, because the colors ‘dull’ and ‘pale’ are boring and lifeless. “O Blues!” blues here means music, that music symbolizes loss and pain.
Weary Blues – Simile “The singer stopped playing and went to bed while the weary blues echoed through his head. He slept like a rock or a man that’s dead.” - Last three lines of last stanza. • Since the musician is seen as a rock or dead, he’s sleeping so soundly he isn’t moving. He is still continuously struggling to create his ‘Weary Blues’ • In the poem by saying “Weary Blues” it can suggest the blues music used as an expression of black sorrow and struggles in the face of discrimination of the larger society.
Helpful Tips for Oral Commentary • Know the context! • Make sure you’re familiar with the style of the author. (Literary features, common themes, etc.) • Use preparation time wisely, don’t panic, you know the material. If you think you’ll panic then you should plan first, then panic with whatever time you have left. • Set yourself up to achieve. STUDY! Go over selected works as many times as you need, remember those literary terms, and practice as if it was the real thing on your own time!