Comparing Poems 'I, Too And If We Must Die'

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The two poems I, Too by Langston Hughes, and If We Must Die by Claude McKay have two very different main ideas, but still have very similar qualities. They are both about oppression and freedom, but in I,Too the speaker tries to achieve freedom in a more pleasant way. However, If We Must Die is a more extreme approach to achieving freedom, it’s about fighting for what you believe in and facing death head on, to die in glory for a cause. The two poems may be different in a few aspects, but they share the same message: it is important to fight for what you believe in. I, Too has a happy, optimistic tone after reading the first few lines. It starts off with the speaker saying: “ I, too, sing America/I am the darker brother/They send me to eat…show more content…
(458) His plans are to eat with everybody else at the table when company comes, instead of eating alone in the kitchen like he has always done. Even though he has always been sent to the kitchen in order to eat, he thinks that nobody will protest against him trying to eat at the table with everybody else. He tries to give reason to why it will work and says: “Besides/They’ll see how beautiful I am/And be ashamed-” (458). It is at this point that the speaker seems to be a really hopeful, and optimistic person. The final thing the speaker says is “I, too, am America” (458). He goes from saying: “I, too, sing America” in the beginning of the poem, and at the end he says: “I, too, am America”. At the end of the poem, he feels as if though he is truly a part of America. In the poem, If We Must Die, it immediately hits you with a somewhat dark and depressing tone. The poem was written in 1922, so the speaker in this poem also had to deal with the racism of our country. There isn't much in the actual poem that directly says the speaker is of African American descent, but due to the unfortunate events happening it can be assumed that he is. The first lines the speaker says are: If we must die—let it not be like…show more content…
He then says: “Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe/Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave/And for their thousand blows we deal one deathblow!” (442). In these few lines, the speaker is talking to his people. He states that they must meet their enemy, even though they will be outnumbered by quite a bit, they must be brave. They want to give their enemy one final “deathblow” as he calls it, and end all of the oppression that they have been forced to endure once and for all. The final three lines the speaker says are: “What though before us lies an open grave?/Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,/Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!” (442). He’s asking his people what other choice do they have, if they don’t fight, then the only thing that they will have is an open grave for them to go into. They will face their cowardly enemy, and while they will be struggling, they will be fighting

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