I, Too explication

891 WordsSep 24, 20134 Pages
An explication of “I, Too” by Langston Hughes An analysis of Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too” in the book The Norton Introduction to Literature (1021), shows that the author used distinct word choice and imagery to write a timeless poem about ignorance and bigotry that can be applied to any group of oppressed people, while at the same time he conveyed a strong sense of hope that at some future time, all will be welcome at the table. The opening line of “I, Too,” “I, too sing America” (1) speaks to all of America, not just Black Americans. Hughes alludes back to the poem by Walt Whitman, “I Hear America Singing” in which Whitman writes about different workers (not races or other categories.) Hughes takes this to the next level by adding…show more content…
The image he sets up here is like sending the family member you are ashamed of out of the room when guests arrive, or even an embarrassing child to their room. Instead of using this as a point of sorrow, Hughes uses the imagery of someone laughing in the face of adversity, while at the same time, using all of the tools available to improve himself and his situation. He uses future tense in the lines that follow, “Tomorrow, / I’ll sit at the table. / When company comes” (8-10). Here Hughes is pointing out that while the narrator of the poem is living in a state of oppression, he is not allowing his will to be broken. He can clearly envision that at some future date, he (and everyone else) will have a place at the family table. It is at this unknown future point that Hughes’ character points out that, “Nobody’ll dare / Say to me, / “Eat in the kitchen,” / Then” (11-14). Here is where Hughes has set up the imagery that finally everyone will be on an equal footing. Everyone will be treated with equal respect. Hughes is not saying that his character will sit in judgment of his former oppressors, but simply be an equal part of the American family seated around the table together. One final note to this point of being a part of the larger American Family, Hughes closes the poem with “Besides, / They’ll see how beautiful I am / And be ashamed---” (15-17). Here is the culmination of
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