Salvation by Langston Hughes Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Teach your students about the essay 'Salvation' by Langston Hughes with this lesson plan. Use our text lesson alongside the essay to aid analysis as you guide students through key ideas and an interactive activity exploring literary devices, tone, and theme.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize Salvation by Langston Hughes
  • identify and analyze tone and theme in Salvation


1 - 1.5 hours


  • Copies of the lesson Salvation by Langston Hughes: Summary, one for each student
  • Copies of the essay Salvation by Langston Hughes, one for each student
  • Five pieces of chart paper hung around the room, with marker
  • Short quotes from the essay exemplifying differing tones, such as sad, sarcastic, formal, informal, and so on, written on paper and cut into strips
  • Copies of the quiz, one for each student

Key Vocabulary

  • Literary device
  • Tone
  • Theme

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).


Part 1

  • Start by reviewing tone with students, giving a definition and examples. Determine categories for tone (formal, informal, serious, sad, happy, excited and so on depending on your specific curriculum requirements) and record them on the board.
  • Now give each student the prepared strips of paper with examples of tone and instruct them to read their quote and decide which category it belongs to.
  • Instruct students to form groups with other students with quotes of the same tone.
  • When students are in their groups, have them read their quotes and defend their choice; allow students to rearrange themselves as needed.
  • When students have made their final decisions, have groups share their quotes and discuss each as a whole class.
    • For example, the quote 'What difference does it make for me to show up? I'll do what I want!' may be in the 'Anger' category because it depicts a sense of aggression.

Part 2

  • Now tell students they will be reading an essay by Langston Hughes and working on identifying tone. Distribute the lesson Salvation by Langston Hughes: Summary and read the first section 'Langston Hughes' together. Allow students to share prior knowledge in small groups.
  • Now give students a copy of the essay Salvation and have them read silently. Have them work with their groups to analyze and summarize with the help of the section 'Salvation Summary' from the lesson.
  • Ask:
    • What does Hughes hope to get from the experience in the essay?
    • Why is Hughes disappointed?
    • Why do you think Hughes chose the title Salvation?
    • What is the main idea of the essay Salvation?
    • Do you think Langston's aunt mean he would literally see a light, or did he misunderstand her? How can the verb 'see' mean different things?

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