Consider this passage about recalcitrant responses to the speaker's expansive desires:

Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,

Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd, atheistical,

I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief

(lines 1112–14)

How does this poem deal with readers who resist its attempt to include them?

Whitman's speaker asks:

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

(lines 1323–25)

In attempting to include every American perspective within it, the poem cannot avoid running into contradictions. Yet the voice seems unconcerned about this inevitable consequence of its indiscriminate inclusion. Decide whether or not this lack of concern is a problem for the poem and what it has to say about democracy.

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Please note: The post contains numerous questions. The eNotes Homework Help policy allows for one question per post. This answer addresses the first question.

The theme of inclusion and exclusion is significant in Walt Whitman’s "Song of Myself " in part because the speaker attempts to present themself as a symbol for every American, and by extension of the entire United States. They claim to “know everyone of” those who are “excluded.” At the same time, they also locates themself in a critical position outside of the...

(The entire section contains 252 words.)

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