Study Guide

Democracy Freedom and Confinement

By Langston Hughes

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Freedom and Confinement

We're pretty sure you picked up on the theme of freedom in "Democracy" after, oh… the first stanza. The speaker spells it out for us that freedom is just as essential as the land we stand on and the bread we eat. At the same time, it's not always the easiest thing to get. Even so, he wants it, and he wants it now.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. How does putting things off for another day relate to the poem's theme of freedom and confinement?
  2. Why is freedom a seed planted in a "great need"? What's the point of this metaphor?
  3. How does the poem's form and meter contribute to the theme of freedom? Would the poem have meant something different if Hughes had chosen a specific form?
  4. How does the speaker's use of ambiguity contribute to the poem's theme of freedom?

Chew on This

Freedom is just as essential as bread, but getting freedom isn't just a matter of using the right amount of yeast. You gotta fight for your right (to democracy).

Freedom requires courage, and to be truly free, one must resist "compromising" with those we fear. Stay strong out there, people.

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