Patriotism And Family
I too sing America: Themes off Family and Patriotism In Langston Hughes short yet notable poem “I, Too, sing America”, we are taken back to the dreadful period of segregation. In this poem, Langston Hughes is reclaiming rights taken away from him and other African Americans at the time. Rights that were promised to all American citizens despite skin color. He uses themes of family and patriotism to articulate the experiences of Black Americans during segregation who are legally and ideologically considered American. “I too, sing America” (line 1), the first stanza as well as the title of the poemis powerful in that it signifies that his race is in fact American, despite the prejudices around them. Because we usually see patriotism through music and anthems, Langston Hughes uses “sing” to pledge his belonging to AmericaHughes starts of the second stanza of the poem with “I am the darker brother” (line 2).
In this line, Langston Hughes compares himself to White Americans through the concept of family. Family brings to mind thoughts of history, birth and connection. African Americans are physically embedded into the birth and founding of America. Although physically different, He is a brother to whites in that they both contributed to the building of America. The second stanza continues with “They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes” (lines 3-4). During this time, African Americans had to be separated from whites in all aspect of living. He uses the kitchen as a metaphor to explain how his own nation, the nation he was born to is ashamed of him and his fellow African Americans therefore secluding them from the rest. He then continues on to say “But I laugh, and eat well. And grow strong” (lines 4-6), meaning that although inequality prevailed, African Americans still strived to push through it continuing to smile and be happy. This line also shine slight on the growth of black culture.
Although initially pessimistic, the tone of the poem starts to become more positive. In the third stanza of the poem, Hughes states “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes, nobody’ll dare say to me eat in the kitchen then” (lines 8-14). The word ‘tomorrow’marks what is to come. These lines also reference hope and optimism that that one day America will no longer be divided but rather equal. In the fourth stanza, we still see Hughes is clinging on to hope. He says “Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed” (lines 15-17). Besides is the only word on the first line of this stanza. In my opinion keeping this word separate brings more significance to the lines that follow about whites being ashamed of themselves for treating African Americans as inferior as opposed to getting to know themFinally, the last stanza ends with one line, the same way the poem started with a single line. “I, too AM America” (line 18). In this line, he is assertive and confident in that he is indeed an American despite being the darker brother. I find it interesting that this poem is short and to the point in contrast to the many agonizing years African Americans spent oppressed however the message is still clear and in just a couple of lines, the reader could almost visualize everything that Hughes explained went on during that time.
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