An Analytical Comparison of "I Hear America Singing" and "I, Too:

708 Words Apr 9th, 2013 3 Pages
An Analytical Comparison of “I Hear America Singing” and “I, Too”
Born ten years after the death of Walt Whitman, there was no possible way for Langston Hughes to ever meet or communication with Whitman, but that did not mean Hughes could not establish a connection to him, or at least his work. In 1925, Hughes wrote a poem titled “I, Too” was inspired by and directed in response to the poem “I Hear America Singing”, which was composed by Whitman much earlier. Whitman’s poem consisted of a variety of different American laborers who “sing” as they do their jobs. This well-known poem never specifically addresses the ethnicity of these singing laborers of the American population, but Hughes sets about to rectify that omission.
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The division between whites and blacks was clearly prevalent and the United States of America was a racially discriminatory society reinforced by its racist laws. Hughes took the initiative to speak his mind via poetry, resulting in his piece “I, Too”. In this poem, Hughes clearly signifies one thing: Just because his skin color is different from whites, does not mean that they get to sing the National Anthem louder. Arguing that all American citizens are the same, disregarding their skin color, Hughes applies in this poem a master-slave relationship. The assumed white master shows disrespect to his servant by sending him away whenever visitors come over, because he is ordered to eat secluded from the company. However he seems to not be faze by this and actually finds it funny, supported by “But I laugh” (5). Furthermore, not only does he find amusement in this unpleasant situation, but the isolation has a positive effect on him “And grow strong” (7), implying that even though he submits to his master, his spirit will not be diminished.
In every line of “I Hear America Singing”, the word “singing” appears to help emphasize and describe the melody of the working American citizens, yet there is no song in particular. Perhaps they are singing the National Anthem? America’s people doing American jobs all united by an unidentified melody that shrouds them all. It would seem a bit peculiar for
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