All four works for today’s reading analysis deal with the themes of perception and acceptance. Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B” is an interesting poem that allows the reader to enter into the mind of Hughes. The assignment the teacher gives seems simple but is difficult in that writing yourself onto paper can take a lot more than one single page. Somehow Hughes manages to capture himself in his page. His reality may be perceived to be a certain way but his point is that despite stereotypes, being American connects us, yet because of our differences we can all learn from one another. Hughes is saying to the teacher, despite what you have heard I am like you in citizenship and in interest and yes, you can learn something from the only black student in your class and I will learn something from you. Hughes is forcing the teacher to accept him as valid and equal.
Lucile Clifton’s “this morning for the girls of eastern high school” is a poem about a black girl who is seen as awkward and different because of her race. Eastern High must have been a predominately all white school. Although her classmates referred to her as the “jungle girl” and gave her such negative descriptions of her (quick as a snake) she was still able not only to meet herself, but survive. She did not let the girls break her.
Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963” is about a young girl who not too long ago moved on an all white street. Just like the Italians and the Jews who moved on before her something about each new group of people was never quite right enough for the street. Because we are all American, we all did not belong and now people who were once immigrants are able to define who is American enough. Not blacks, not Germans, not Dominicans and not anyone really. The people on the street in this poem are hypocrites because they once were in the same position as the new people being followed around by the police, but since they have adapted a little more easily they are now above what once defined them, difference.
The poem “Fork” by Jeffery Harrison is about a student who had an awful teacher, and the student’s rebellion. By stealing a fork from the teachers home, the student is able to get back at the teacher. Not only does the student steal the fork but also mocks the teacher by capturing the fork on film in various places around Europe. The teacher would never accept the student or any student to be anything but a student. Not a thinker, not a writer, not a visionary but a just a student. What the teacher forgot is that students too become award winning writers. The teacher was selfish and didn’t want the attention to shift from her writing to the students so she tore every student to pieces to keep them down. Like in the Clifton poem the speaker does not let society restrain them. The student survived and thrived. The point of all of the readings is to say that we are all survivors and we are all important. The Jesuit ideal is to say that we are all created in the image of God and even when people forget your worth, you cannot.