The Langston Hughes poem “I, too,” was originally published in 1940 and addresses the topic of racism in America. The poem’s first stanza begins with the phrase I, too, sing America and then continues on to describe life as an African American living in America throughout history. The poem contains many metaphors that highlight some of the challenges faced by African Americans and some of the injustices they faced at that time.
In “I, too,” Langston Hughes writes about the struggles of African Americans to be accepted as equal and self-sufficient people in a time when discrimination against their race was legal and socially acceptable. Moreover, in this poem, he alludes to the fact that any African American walking in public after dark must know that they will be assumed guilty of wrongdoing simply because of their skin color.
Langston Hughes addresses the idea that he, and those around him are just as important as anyone else, even if they’re not white and have had to fight their whole lives to get respect. This poem isn’t just meant to give black people some relief from the discrimination they feel every day. Also, it meant empowering everyone to live up to their true potential and learn to appreciate everyone around them, no matter who they are or what they’ve been through.
In Depth Analysis of the Poem
In the poem’s first stanza, the speaker openly expresses his love for America by saying that he also belongs to America. But unfortunately, due to his dark complexion, people do not treat him well. To support his ideas, he explains how his white fellow mates send him to the kitchen when they expect guests. However, the speaker laughs at their biased approach instead of feeling low or bad. Despite mourning, he tries to enjoy in the kitchen and try to emerge as a strong man.
In the second stanza, the speaker appears as a positive man who thinks one day this discrimination will end and will share the same table with other Americans. This short stanza highlights the pain of the blacks, like how the Americans neglect them. However, at the same time, it shows their courageous stance that no matter how bad the world treats them, they keep their morale high.
The final stanza continues the same thought expressed in the previous stanza. The speaker says that one day people who look down on him will be ashamed of their behaviors. He is hopeful that one day they will come out of their toxic thoughts and see the beauty, honesty, and purity in the blacks because they are also Americans. They, too, sing glory to the American state even after facing a lot pain and troubles.
Major Themes in the Poem, “I, Too”
Some of the major themes of the poems are prejudices, discrimination, inequality, and the pains of the black community. This short poem allows the readers to take imaginative flight and feel the pain of the blacks. It makes them imagine how the blacks survive in a land where people hate sharing a table with them.
It is so painful that they are removed even from the table when the whites expect a gala party. Thus, the whites turn every stone to make them feel inferior, low, and downcast. Instead of taking things to heart, the blacks remain hopeful that one day Americans will break these barriers and welcome them to their company. He is optimistic that one day blacks will be treated equally to whites.
The speaker’s description of himself shows that he has no control over his looks or feelings. But he is a man who believes in equality among people despite their skin color or gender. In this poem, Hughes addresses the struggles of being a minority and how he feels he gets treated differently than white people. The speaker says that even though he doesn’t get the same treatment as white people do, that doesn’t mean he can’t do anything just as well or better as them.
Analysis of Poetic Elements Used in “I, Too”
Poetic and literary devices are the writer’s tools that allow them to carve their simple texts with a mix of uniqueness and depth. Langston Hughes has added some poetic and literary techniques in this poem to convey his ideas about racism and inequality effectively. Some of the prominent devices used in the poem are imagery, metaphor, symbolism, irony, and diction.
The first device that dominates the poem is imagery. The writer creates a clear picture of what is happening in the poem by using powerful images such as; “They send me to eat in the kitchen/When company comes.” These images helps people imagine how the blacks are forcefully separated from the rest of the world.
Another important literary device that appear throughout the poem is symbolism. The poet has used symbols such injustice, prejudice, biased attitudes and hatred toward the blacks to show the condition of the blacks among the while class.