What is the tone of "I, Too, Sing America" by Langston Hughes?  

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of the poem is pride and defiance.  It speaks of a racial divide in America that white people are perfectly content to ignore.  Sending the speaker to the kitchen to eat can be symbolic of segregation, but also of America's desire to ignore the race problem.  Kind of like out of sight and out of mind.  

Despite the poor treatment of black people, Hughes states that they will overcome and "grow strong."  He envisions a future where his people will rise up and demand full equality.  By suggesting he is a "brother," demonstrates an equal relationship.  The belief that black people will work to secure their rights against all odds is best exhibited in the following passage: 

But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

The inclusion of "I laugh," is an example of defiance as a theme.  Despite whatever unfair treatment he is subjected to, he will not let it break his spirit. Hughes also says that America will be ashamed of its past treatment of black people which is also somewhat defiant.  

Nobody will dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--


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I, Too, Sing America

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