Sample Essay

Words 800

Taking a leap forward in both time and social change, “Dinner Guest: Me,” which is published during the last year of Hughes’s life, takes a satirical look at how his identity is more acceptable when he becomes an established and respected writer. In fact, his popularity and appreciation grow from the 1930s through the 1960s. In 1961, Hughes is inducted into the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The last ten years of his life include a prolific list of work, including history, poetry volumes, and anthologies (Thomson Gale).

As a popular literary figure, Hughes comes into contact with high society and uses his poetry to relate his experiences. The poem takes a light-hearted approach to his status as an intellectual dinner party novelty. His poem reads:

I know I am

The Negro Problem

Being wined and dined,

Answering the usual questions

That comes to white mind

Which seeks demurely


To probe in a polite way

The why and wherewithal

Of darkness U.S.A.

Wondering how things got this way

In current democratic night,

Murmuring gently


Over fraises du Bois

“I’m so ashamed of being white.”


The lobster is delicious,

The wine divine,

And center of attention

At the damask table, mine,

To be a Problem on

Park Avenue at eight

Is not so bad.

Solutions to the Problem,

Of course, wait.


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