by James Weldon Johnson
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (254)
- Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was a poet who wrote many poems that dealt with death. In this symbolism-filled poem, ““Hope” is the thing with feathers,” Dickinson symbolizes hope as a bird that prevails in a storm.Pair “Sonnet” with “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” and ask students to compare these pieces—how does each text develop the theme of hope? Of adversity? What is the effect of natural imagery (imagery of nature) in each poem?
We Shall Overcome Speech
- President Lyndon B. Johnson
This rousing speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson was delivered right after civil rights protesters were brutally beaten on “Bloody Sunday.” This speech is considered one of the best presidential speeches in history, and eventually led to The Voting Rights Act of 1965.Pair “Sonnet” with “We Shall Overcome Speech” and ask students to compare the tone of each piece. What does each piece intend to inspire in the reader?
We Wear the Mask
- Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was an influential African American poet, the son of freed slaves, and friend of Frederick Douglass. In “We Wear the Mask,” Dunbar introduces the idea of hiding behind a metaphorical mask.Pair these poems and have students compare the structure and message of each work.
- Claude McKay
Festus Claudius “Claude” McKay (1889-1948) was a Jamaican-American novelist and poet who played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance. In this sonnet, the speaker reveals his mixed feelings about living in "the land of the free."Pair “America” with “Sonnet” and ask students to compare the message of two sonnets by these contemporaries.
Mother to Son
- Langston Hughes
In “Mother to Son,” a mother utilizes metaphor to communicate the struggles she's faced and the importance of perseverance to her son.Pair “Sonnet” with “Mother to Son” and ask students to compare their themes. Furthermore, how does each piece utilize different forms to develop their messages?