* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


by Langston Hughes

Courage Theme

No one ever said freedom comes easy no matter where you are. In "Democracy," freedom takes a lot of courage and guts. The speaker has to stand up for what's right and quit fearing everything. There are those who are courageous enough to follow our speaker's shining example. And then, there are those who say, "tomorrow is another day."

Questions About Courage

  1. Does the speaker's tone sound courageous to you? If so, which lines stand out in particular?
  2. What's so important about "tomorrow's bread" and the poem's theme of courage? 
  3. What's the relationship between courage and freedom's "strong seed"? 
  4. Do you think freedom is really just about having the courage to stand up for what's right? Is it possible to have freedom without courage? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

It's time to wake up and smell the justice cooking. You can't have freedom without courage in "Democracy," and you can't be courageous if you're always talking about "tomorrow."

A little courage goes a long way, but in "Democracy" a lot of courage has the potential to make freedom's "strong seed" grow even higher. Think of a might oak tree, only instead of leaves its branches sprout people who are equally free in a democratic society. How's that for imagery?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Noodle's College Search