Themes and Message

Expectation versus reality

The poem “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes explores the theme of expectation versus reality. Throughout the poem, the speaker contrasts the cruel reality of America with past expectations and dreams. 

The theme appears from the beginning of the poem when the speaker is nostalgic about America and “the dream it used to be” (l. 2). While America was supposed to be “that great strong land of love/ Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme/ That any man be crushed by one above”, the reality is different. The speaker makes it clear that America is currently a place that crushes the dreams of the lower, working-class, who do not enjoy freedom and equality. 

Throughout the poem, the speaker talks about the reality that defines America: poverty, slavery, the land being forcefully taken away from the Natives, fierce competition, ...

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