Essay on Langston Hughes's I, Too and Countee Cullen's Incident

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The poems, “I, Too” by Langston Hughes and “Incident” by Countee Cullen employ visual imagery, tone, literary devices such as hyperboles, symbolism, and foreshadowing in different ways to illustrate the public life interaction between two different races, and the private life of an African American’s internal struggle of not being able to fight against the prejudice towards them. Both poets share racism as their piece of life, and although dealing with racism is the central tension engaged in the poems, Cullen suggests that experiences can affect your view on life and change your attitude. Hughes on the other hand, proposes that with an optimistic attitude you can change the outcome of your future, and that your attitude is independent…show more content…
The speakers in both poems are “made credible by their intimate knowledge of [the] given historical time and place and its in habitants” (Vendler 183), by making testimonies like “I was eight and very small”(5) in the “Incident”, and the numerous “I” statements in “I, Too”. The authors having a persona and imposing different structures made it easy to empathize the prejudice their speakers experienced. However, by integrating different tones, imagery and figurative language into their work, the authors were truly able to convey their messages; whether experience can dictate attitude or not. Cullen even craftily uses the title of the poem as a vehicle to foreshadow the poem’s plot. The title implies that something undesirable may happen during the poem and will be the core attention of the poem. There was a shift in tone from enthusiasm to disconsolate in the “Incident”: "Now I was eight and very small, / And he was no whit bigger, / And so I smiled" (5-7). These lines prove that the speaker was optimistic and willing to meet a new friend, who was the same size and age as him. In the final stanza, Cullen illustrates the shift in tone to depression, “I saw the whole of Baltimore / From May until December; / Of all the things that happened there / That’s all I remember” (9-12), which was an entire hyperbole. The hyperbole was used to emphasize how much that incident impacted the speaker and how the speaker could not take their mind off

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