James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri.He was one of the first black men to express the spirit of blues and jazz into words. An African American Hughes became a well known poet, novelist, journalist, and playwright. Because his father emigrated to Mexico and his mother was often away, Hughes was brought up in Lawrence, Kansas, by his grandmother Mary Langston. Her second husband (Hughes’s grandfather) was a abolitionist. She helped Hughes to see the cause of social justice. As a child Hughes turned to reading and writing, publishing his first poems while in high school in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1921 he entered Columbia University, but left after an unhappy year. Even as he worked as a delivery man.The poem I, Too, written by Langston Hughes, uses excellent language, vivid imagery and strong sounds to express the poet’s feelings towards racism. I, Too is an anti-discrimination poem, which shows the injustice of racism. The poem is very effective because of its genuine emotions.
The poem is situated in America and describes a black man’s personal experience with racial discrimination. He is treated as if he is an embarrassment to the white people, and made to feel inferior to them.
The poet is trying to show how America “covers up” her racial discrimination “problems.” He also wants to convey the importance of racial equality. He wants the reader to understand that this is not just a personal experience, but a voice of his people.
The tone changes throughout the poem. In the first line, the tone is patriotic. The line, “I, too, sing America,” indicates the national anthem, and symbolizes unity throughout the nation. In the next stanza, the tone is of anger and strength. The man is enraged at how he is treated, but he knows he is strong enough to fight back. This is shown in the line, “But I laugh,/ and eat well,/ And grow strong.” The following stanza’s tone is of warning and caution. The man warns the people, that he will become powerful, and that no one will dare to harm him in the future. Then in the next stanza, the tone changes once again. The man is much calmer and speaks proudly that one day “they’ll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed.” In the last line, the tone is once again patriotic.
The poem’s structure is irregular. The poem begins and ends with single lines. In between there are 3 stanzas, all of which have different number of lines-6, 7 and 3. The purpose for the irregular structure is to create an effect of unequalness, symbolizing the discrimination he is receiving.
The poem’s use of simple language helps to clearly define what the poet wants to express. The saying that “strong people don’t waste words,” is shown here, as the poem is short and to the point. It could also reflect the uneducated class, or the clarity and simplicity of their just complaint. The poem is also made more effective by using words with deeper meanings. For example, the word, “brother,” means family and symbolizes equality and acceptance.