What is the theme of "I, Too, Sing América" by Julia Alvarez?

The main theme of "I, Too, Sing América" by Julia Alvarez is diversity.

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"I, Too, Sing América" by Julia Alvarez is a response to both Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes's "I, Too, Sing America," and it shares their theme of diversity. Whitman's poem celebrates the diversity of the working people of America: mechanics, carpenters, masons, boatmen, and others singing "with open mouths their strong melodious songs." Langston Hughes adds to this diversity, pointing out that the American song has, for too long, excluded Black Americans, who not only demand to be heard, but add to the beauty and complexity of America's music.

Julia Alvarez's poem adds to these celebrations of diversity by making another equally striking point. The other two poets were only writing about a small fraction of America, which is composed of two enormous continents. The United States of America is only one country, which commonly appropriates the name of those two continents for itself. Alvarez, on the other hand, uses a mixture of the two languages that dominate North and South America, English and Spanish, to sing the whole of both continents "from the soles / of Tierra del Fuego" to "the great plain face of Canada." This, she says, is one great "familia" which includes almost the entirety of the Western hemisphere and is therefore half the world, the newer half, which has a new song to sing.

Alvarez's "sancocho / of inglés / con español" makes a linguistic, cultural and racial point about the diversity of the Americas. She adds a "Latin beat" to the songs of the previous two poems, confidently asserting "Yo también soy América" as she celebrates the variety and breadth of a vibrant, multilingual, and multiethnic culture.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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