The Segregated I - Analysis of I, Too by Langston Hughes
The poem "I, Too" by Langston Hughes is an excellent example of a poem using the word "I" as something other than its literal meaning. "I, Too" is about the segregation of African Americans, whites and how soon segregation will come to an end.
The first line of "I, Too" uses the word "I" right away. The line states "I, too, sing America". This meter in particular is as important as the entirety of the poem. It means not only whites are Americans, but African Americans are citizens and should be treated equally.
In the following stanza, the word "I" is used several times. The first line of the second stanza states "I am the darker brother" -- meaning he may be African American, but he is still an American. The following five meters state "They send me to eat in the kitchen. When company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong". The use of "I" here is showing that African Americans do not worry about what is being done, but how they are growing stronger as segregation continues, knowing soon they will be equal.
African Americans were not allowed to eat with whites. They generally were not allowed to use the same entrances, exits, toilets, or the same room to eat in. This is why they sent him to the kitchen to eat.
The third stanza shows what the future will be like, or as Hughes uses the metaphorical "tomorrow." The stanza reads "Tomorrow, I'll be at the table when company comes. Nobody'll dare say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then". The use of "I" helps showing the African American community will soon rise and be one with the rest of America.
The fourth stanza concludes in a way which states African Americans are not inherently bad, but inherently good. The stanza reads "Besides, they'll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed "I, too, am America". Here Hughes says that once African American's are recognized as equal, everyone will see they are not bad and that they are beautiful as well as part of America.
Langston Hughes is a talented poet who uses metaphors and his own style of writing to increase the effectiveness of his overall message. His usage of "I" helps reiterate that he too is an American and will not be let down by society nor will other African Americans. "I, Too" depicts the view of African Americans in the past and their strength to move forward.
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