I, Too Questions and Answers
by Langston Hughes

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What are two ways that Langston Hughes’s “I, Too” is similar to and different from Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing”?

Two ways that Langston Hughes's "I, Too" is similar to Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" are that both poems involve singing and a sense of pride in America. Two ways the poems are different are that Hughes's narrator is excluded from certain aspects of American society while Whitman's is not and that Whitman's poem focuses on many different people while Hughes's focuses on one man. 

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First, Whitman's poem describes many different types of Americans, with varied jobs and responsibilities: mechanics, carpenters, masons, boatmen, shoemakers, wood-cutters, mothers, wives, and young girls. All go about their own lives with relative liberty and apparent joy. Hughes's poem describes only one person: a black person who seems to be representative of everyone who is affected by the oppressive laws and traditions that exist in America.

Second, the liberty and freedom of identity and expression that seem to be part of the lives of the subjects of Whitman's poem are not shared by the speaker or Hughes's poem. Instead, he is sent to "eat in the kitchen" rather than being allowed to participate fully. However, he does "laugh" and "grow strong," because he knows that he will, someday, enjoy a freedom that he does not currently possess.

Third, the people represented by the poems do all seem to associate America with freedom and empowerment and joy, though Hughes's narrator does not...

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