Civil Rights Movement in Langston Hughes and Claude McKay's Poems

977 Words Feb 4th, 2018 4 Pages
Hughes and McKay spoke about the hidden nightmare behind racism and everything it stood up for. Claude McKay in the poem “If We Must Die” and Langston Hughes in the poem “I Too, Sing America” both express a similar theme and meaning through their use of symbolism, tone ,and imagery.
First, both “I, Too, Sing America” and “If We Must Die” use tone to express their concerns about their place in society. This use of tone is comparable, since both poets use the concept of honor but in different ways. For instance, Hughes says “They send me to eat in the kitchen, when company comes, but I laugh and eat well, and grow strong.” This shows Hughes’ tone, which is quiet yet, strong. He is hiding his strength for the moment, and just chuckles to himself. He doesn’t want to waste his breath; they’ll see him for the beautiful butterfly he is sooner rather than later. Deep down in the poem there is a message of hope. Although, he is living through the present which has numerous color barriers and useless racism, he still realizes change will soon come, and they’ll be “ashamed” for the heart aches and pain they put him through. He senses that the United States of America is changing, and he is living through it already, they just don’t see it, yet. But they soon will. On the other hand, McKay’s poem demonstrates a much more aggressive, less submissive and less optimistic tone, but with…
Open Document