Metaphors in "I, Too"

Topics: African American, Jim Crow laws, Langston Hughes Pages: 3 (1085 words) Published: October 4, 2010
Brooke Hodge
English 1102
October 2, 2010
Metaphors in “I, Too”
Throughout literature, metaphors are used to represent ideas and concepts that authors are trying to relay to the readers. This is extremely prevalent in “I, Too” by Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes lived and wrote during the time of segregation and Jim Crow Laws. During this time period, African Americans were not able to go to the same schools, use the same bathrooms or even drink out of the same water fountains as white Americans (United States History). Throughout the poem “I, Too,” Langston Hughes uses metaphors to allude to his feelings on segregation and Jim Crow Laws. The opening line in the poem states “I, too, sing America” (Hughes 548). This line signifies an attempt for equality. During the time of segregation, the Jim Crow Laws were used to mandate the segregation of all public places and were supposed to have a “separate but equal” status for African Americans (United States History). This was not the case due to the fact that the treatment and accommodations were often inferior for African Americans as opposed to the accommodations that were provided to white Americans. The line signifies Hughes’ believe that he is just as equal as everyone else and he “sings” just like any other person in America. Singing is a metaphor for having a voice in the world and Hughes is explaining that his beliefs and opinions will be heard. The first stanza in the poem shows how Hughes is treated unequally. "I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes, / But I laugh, / And eat well, / And grow strong" (Hughes 548). Hughes is trying to show a connection between men and in the second line of the poem it says, “I am the darker brother” (Hughes 548). This line helps to show that all men are equal except for the color of their skin. Hughes was trying to show how African Americans were treated in lines three and four which says, "They send me to eat in the kitchen/...

Cited: 1960s, By The. “Jim Crow Laws.” United States History. Web. 23 Sept. 2010. <>.
Douglass, Fredrick. “What to The Slave Is Fourth of July? -- 1841 Speech by Frederick Douglass --Courtesy of The Freeman Institute...” What to The Slave Is Fourth of July? Web. 23 Sept. 2010. <>.
Holman, Bob, and Margery Snyder. “Langston Hughes - Profile of the Poet Langston Hughes.” About Poetry - Poets, Poems, Poetics, Contemporary Poetry and Poetry History. Web. 26 Sept. 2010. <>.
Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. “I,Too” Backpack Literature: an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Third ed. Boston: Longman, 2010. 548. Print.
“Langston Hughes.” - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Web. 02 Oct. 2010. <>.
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