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Themes

In "I, Too, Sing America," freedom is the big goal. By refusing to buckle under the awful pressures of slavery and oppression, the speaker moves ever closer towards eventual freedom and racial equality. He's looking forward to the day America fulfills her promise of freedom.

There's something to be said for mental freedom, too – the speaker firmly believes that he (and his race) is equal to white Americans. Though he is treated poorly, he knows his value and doesn't allow his mind to be imprisoned. It's all about conviction, here. It's the way to freedom.

Questions About Freedom

  1. How does the speaker envision the path towards freedom? What does this say about American conceptions of freedom more generally?
  2. How are freedom and equality related in this poem? What about freedom and patriotism?
  3. What effect does the domestic setting (house, kitchen…) of the poem have on its overall theme of freedom? (That is to say – what do you make of the contradiction between the confined setting, and the overall freedom-laden message?)

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The historical compression in this poem – the metaphorical "tomorrow" – makes the idea of freedom much stronger throughout the piece.

The speaker in this poem never views himself as anything other than free.

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