Theme of Personal Identity to Socially Protest

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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“Langston Hughes utilizes the theme of personal identity to socially protest how blacks were treated in America during the modernism time period. There was strong racism in most parts of the country. Throughout his work “I, Too,” he tries to establish his identity as a black man. He uses “I, Too” to reveal the racism he experiences as a black man and combats racism by demonstrating how he is a proud black man in spite of how he’s treated.

In the poem “I, Too,” Langston Hughes confronts racism in America.

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The second stanza talks about how the speaker was being forced to eat in the kitchen when company comes as if he’s an embarrassment to the white people. This stanza truly reveals that he was treated differently. He is rejected because of his skin color, but that shouldn’t make a difference on how much respect he gets or how he is treated. Because of racism, freedom is limited in the black community. In spite of his treatment he refuses to be kept down. He is still happy, healthy, and able to grow physically and mentally. People cannot help what race, culture, or family they were born in; all they can do is deal with it and make the best of it.

In the “I, Too” poem, Langston Hughes reveals the pride he takes in his Negro heritage. In the first line, “I Too sing America,” he is explaining that he is American like everyone else in the country, but he only has a darker skin color as he follows up in the line “I am the darker brother” (Hughes line 2). He uses dark instead of black because the term black usually represents evil or death, which degrades African Americans. In the third stanza he begins by saying “Tomorrow.” He does not actually know when that tomorrow is going to be, but one day everyone will be equal. Then he says when that tomorrow comes, “Nobody’ll dare / Say to me, / ‘Eat in the kitchen’” (lines 11-13). He is optimistic that one day segregation will be over. The speaker knows that having self-assurance will take away the white majority’s power and make them question themselves about why are they being racist.

He has a strong confident self-identification, which compels him to fight for equal treatment as a black American. An important strength of the poem is how his first and last line expand the title: “I, too, sing America . . . I, too, am America” (lines 1,18). He strongly believes that he and his race are equivalent to white Americans. In spite of the fact that he’s treated poorly, he knows his value and does not enable his mind to be detained. It’s all about conviction. It’s the way to freedom.

Langston Hughes has a significant message regarding the issue of black oppression in America. In the poem he uses powerful language and vivid imagery to express his feeling towards racism. He writes from the perspective of a black man. By refusing to buckle under the awful pressures of racism and oppression and by indicating hope for the future, the speaker moves ever closer towards eventual freedom and racial fairness.”

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Theme of Personal Identity to Socially Protest. (2021, Apr 08). Retrieved from