Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B,” Lucille Clifton’s “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school),” Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963,” and Jeffery Harrison’s “Fork” all share the theme of individuals trying to fit in and find their place. I found that the three poems “Theme for English B,” “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school),” and “Queens, 1963” specifically deal with acceptance based on racial and ethnic issues. While, Harrison’s poem “Fork” discusses the same topic, but dealing more with the acceptance of oneself.
In “Theme for English B” the speaker, an African American student, is given an assignment by his white teacher to write a page, “And let that page come out of you—Then, it will be true” (lines 4-5). The speaker writes about being African American, and similarities he and people of different races share. Also, how even though him and his teacher are different colors they are still equals. He says they are part of each other because they are both Americans. The page he wrote allowed him to realize that he does fit in and that he is not all that different because he is black.
Clifton’s short poem “this morning (for the girls of eastern high)” tells how an African American girl discovers herself. At the start of the poem the speaker is “bright” and “shining”. However, towards the end she is trying to survive. Clifton puts emphasis on lines 3 and 12 by repeating the phrase “I met myself.” This shows that by the end of the poem the speaker recognized where she stood in society as an African American.
“Queens, 1963” shows the acceptance into society based on different races and ethnicities. In this poem, Alvarez discusses the multi-cultural block she lived on as a kid in Queens. Despite all the different cultures on her block everyone became alert when the African American family moved in. Cops patrolled the street and rumors spread. For this African American family fitting in would be extremely difficult.
The speaker in “Fork” describes how he found his place as a writer with the help of a fork, which he stole from his teacher, who he despised. He writes this letter telling the teacher how the fork helped him get to where he is today, but now he does not need it anymore so he is sending it back. This is when the speaker finally accepts himself.
Whether it’s within society or within oneself, these four poems all relate through acceptance. Like all the speakers in the poems at one time or another we have to face being accepted and find out where we belong.