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» Student Handout: "Dinner Guest: Me" by Langston Hughes

You can find the poem at: [http://www.poemhunter.com/p/m/poem.asp?poet=6691&poem=31566]

Langston Hughes published most of his work in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. He reflected his social concerns in his writings about injustice, war and race. He is widely acknowledged and praised all over the world as one of the great American writers of the 20th century. "Dinner Guest: Me" was first published in Negro Digest in September 1965.

Directions: Read the poem aloud to a partner. Then, after your partner reads it aloud to you, work together to answer the questions below before class discussion starts.

Words you might not know:

  • "demurely" means modestly or in a reserved way
  • "damask" refers to a fine, rich table cloth
  • "fraises du bois" are tiny, wild strawberries, literally "strawberries of the woods."

  1. Who is the speaker of the poem? What kind of person is he?
  2. To whom is he speaking? In other words, who is the audience?
  3. What is the situation he is describing? What is the speaker's feeling about the situation?
  4. Why do you think "Problem" is capitalized?
  5. Do you think the speaker thinks his presence at the dinner party is helping to find "Solutions to the Problem"?
  6. What is the speaker's feeling about someone saying, "I'm so ashamed of being white"?
  7. What effect do the phrases "The wine divine" and "fraises du bois" have?
  8. What do you think is the overall point of the poem?
  9. Langston Hughes wrote this poem in the middle of the 20th century. Explain why you believe it is or is not still relevant.

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