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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

10. Rhythms
in Poetry

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
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Activities: Author Activities

Langston Hughes - Author Questions

Back Back to Langston Hughes Activities
  1. Comprehension: In "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Hughes offers a list of famous rivers. Where are these rivers? Why might he choose these specific rivers? What do they have in common?

  2. Comprehension: In "I, Too" the speaker says, "I am the darker brother." What does he mean? Why does he eat in the kitchen? What does he mean when he says that he'll eat at the table "tomorrow"? What connection is the speaker making to America? What is the significance of the title?

  3. Context: "Mulatto" was written at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. How does this poem conflict with the values and goals set forth by the leaders of this movement? Why might people like W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke have objected to this poem?

  4. Context: Hughes pays close attention to the structure of his poems, but he has a very different attitude toward poetic form than his contemporary Claude McKay. How does Hughes's verse differ from McKay's? Why do you think Hughes makes the choices he does? What is Hughes trying to convey about black experience and identity through his form?

  5. Context: "Note on Commercial Theater" was written almost two decades after the Harlem Renaissance. What is Hughes objecting to in this poem? Are the same issues still relevant today?

  6. Exploration: Hughes seems particularly concerned about American identity in his poetry. Why do you think he writes so often about America as opposed to Africa? How do poems like "I, Too" and "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" treat identity?

  7. Exploration: Compare "I, Too" to the opening section of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." Why does Hughes allude to this poem? What does the allusion add to his work?

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