In these two poems, Whitman and Hughes present parallel views of the American experience.
Whitman’s poem is joyous and celebratory; Hughes’ poem is more skeptical, but it is not without hope.
This handout of thorough and precise questions is ready to go with minimal prep on the part of the teacher.
Questions encourage close reading, analysis of poetic elements, as well as deeper thinking and discussion about the themes and big ideas of the poem.
There are also prompts for in-class writing as well as for longer assessment.
These poems could be used with many texts that deal with the American Dream, race, power, or class.
Suggestions include: Their Eyes were Watching God, Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, A Raisin in the Sun, The Grapes of Wrath, or Of Mice and Men.
Looking for more poetry lessons for your American Literature class? Check out my American Literature Poetry Bundle: Focus on Immigration and the American Dream
which includes enough material for three weeks of lessons, everything you need to teach your students how to analyze poetry, and then get them exploring, discussing, and writing about the bigger themes of American Literature such as materialism, love, race, family dynamics, class, immigration, language, tradition, the search for the self and the American dream.