Study Guide

Democracy Courage

By Langston Hughes

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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

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?

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