What are some special features in "I, Too" written by Langston Hughes?For example, some poems use refrain, similes, imagery, and repetition.I am taking notes on "I, Too" because of an English...

What are some special features in "I, Too" written by Langston Hughes?For example, some poems use refrain, similes, imagery, and repetition.

I am taking notes on "I, Too" because of an English project at school. I have to meet with my teacher to discuss this poem and cannot find anything on special features.

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The primary device that Langston Hughes employs in "I, Too" is allusion: a reference to another work of art. 

Hughes's opening line, "I, too, sing America," is an allusion to Walt Whitman's famous poem "I Hear America Singing."  Whitman describes the "varied carols" that he hears from American working people:  

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as
he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's...

Langston Hughes comments on Whitman's poem by saying that he--the "darker," black American--also sings.  He describes the mistreatment of African-Americans through the image of being sent "to eat in the kitchen / When company comes."  This, however, does not prevent the African-American from eating well and growing strong.  His eventual strength is represented by another image:

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

In addition to allusion and imagery, Hughes also uses a refrain; "I, too, sing America" is both the first and last line of the poem.

Sources:

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