Text: I, too
task: Textual Analysis
The poem has got an inclusive title, signalled by the expression "too".
The poem is written in free verse because it doesn't follow a specific rhyme scheme but considering the layout the reader can understand the poem is arranged into two sequences having a specific function in the economy of the text. They refer to different moments in the life of the speaking voice who expresses his/her point of view in a lyrical tone underlined by the subject pronoun "I".
As a matter of fact all that the reader knows is filtered by his/her voice.
America is the context within which the narrator's experience is lived: he sings America even if he is considered "the darker brother". He is living the sad experience of seclusion since he is sent to eat into the kitchen when people arrive in the family he is working for. But he doesn't seem resigned, on the contrary he laughs, eats to grow strong.
The second sequence in the poem expresses the man's expectations for the future. He feels sure there will be a moment when nobody will have the courage to send him to eat in the kitchen, when people come vice versa he will sit at the same table and the people who once sent him away will be ashamed of their previous behaviour because he belongs to America, too.
From the denotative analysis carried out so far it is easy to understand the poem discusses the problem of racism from the point of view of a proud marginalized individual. From the point of view of sound what matters to be analysed is the recurrent use of long vowel sounds that contribute to reflection. Also the opening and ending of the poem seem to create a circle giving the poem a frame that includes all of the darker brother's existence: from present to future. The alliteration "company comes" present in both sections of the poem, provides the context for that experience: seclusion at present is visible when "company comes" and in the same way when "company comes" (line 3, section 2) also gives the darker brother occasion to state he is an important person, belonging to America as well.
The idea of the transformation of this condition is conveyed and communicated on the semantic level: the poet chooses very simple words, most of them monosyllabic and ordinary language, so that everybody may understand them. Significantly there is a time shift that can be understood if you consider the use of verb tenses that move from present to future. Syntax is also very simple.
Punctuation contributes to slow the rhythm of the line thus created the occasion to stop and think. There is also the use of direct speech in the second part of the poem, which has the function of a sort of echo effect as if the reader could hear himself/herself the words with which the darker brother was sent away from the company.
There is also a shift from action to reflection from the first to the second part of the poem: as a matter of fact the first one mainly consists of action verbs ("eat, come, laugh, eat and grow"), while the second part of the poem privileges perception and verbs expressing feelings ("I'll be, I'll dare, they'll see, I am and they'll be ashamed") to end in the epigrammatic conclusion "I, too, am America".
The expression "too" which captured the attention right from the title, creating curiosity in the reader's mind, becomes now clear: it explicitly refers to the darker wish to be treated and feel like any other American person.