Study Guide

Theme for English B Identity

By Langston Hughes


Man, "Theme for English B" sure talks a lot: about race, about America, about truth, and lots of big questions. Still, at its heart, it's about a 22-year-old man who is trying to find out exactly who he is. Of course, searching for his identity involves asking questions about the world around him, but when it comes down to it, he's examining the world around him by first asking himself how he fits into that super-sized Rubik's cube. At the same time, this poem links one man's identity to an entire country's identity. As this man is trying to find out who he is, America is full of racial tension, and hasn't really reached a stable identity itself. Much like the cube, it's a tricky puzzle to solve!

Questions About Identity

  1. What do you think are the most important parts of the speaker's identity in this poem?
  2. How do you think setting affects identity for our speaker?
  3. How does race affect the speaker's identity?Ā 
  4. How might age affect the speaker's identity?

Chew on This

Identity's only skin deep. The speaker in this poem believes that race is the most important factor in determining his identity.

The map is where it's at. The places where the speaker lives are more important to his identity than race is.

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