Hughes seems to express a range of moods or tones in his poems: If he sounds angry in “Harlem” or defeated in “The Weary Blues,” his voice is more hopeful in “I, Too,” prouder in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” How does he sound in “Theme for English B“? What different feelings does he express in the poem? What is his attitude toward the white instructor?
Hughes wrote “Theme for English B” (in 1949) as if he were a student again in his freshman composition class at Columbia University (which he attended in 1921-22). What does the image of the “college on the hill above Harlem” (l. 9) seem to capture about his feelings or thoughts–his sense of “where he is” symbolically? What do you make of other images in the poem, such as the pipe and the records?