Study Guide

Democracy Freedom

By Langston Hughes

Freedom

What's the difference between freedom and democracy in Hughes's poem? The two are definitely related, but freedom in "Democracy" is purposely left a bit open-ended. And hey, that makes sense since freedom is, you know, "free," right?

  • Lines 13-14: Who needs freedom? Who needs freedom after you're dead? Yes, those famous lines really stick with us and give us a little chuckle too. And that's a perfect combination to capture just how urgently the speaker needs freedom now.
  • Lines 15-18: This metaphor that compares freedom to a "strong seed" really says it all. The potential for growth and progress that's within that tiny seed seems limitless. And since it's planted in a "great need," we know the demand is mighty high.Ā 
  • Lines 19-21: The speaker lives here just like you do. And if you're free, then he ought to be too. Seems reasonable enough, right?

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