I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes
Health as Hope
This set of images is very closely related to the "Kitchen and Domesticity" set, but also includes the notions of nourishment-as-symbol. There are a lot of ways we nourish ourselves in a metaphorical sense, right? Literally, it just means to feed your body the nutrients it needs. But if you think about it poetically, it can mean to nurture your soul, to educate yourself, to grow from experiences. And that's exactly where the poem takes it.
- Lines 5-7: Again, we have a powerful image of the narrator taking his situation (which is awful) and turning it on its head. Instead of letting the oppression get him down, he goes to the kitchen to eat and "eats well" and "grows strong." Health, here, is being used as a symbol for perseverance – growing in the face of adversity.
- Lines 8-9: The future tense here ("Tomorrow, / I'll be") is an indicator of hope. The narrator is suggesting that by eating (both literally and figuratively), he will get to a point where he'll be on equal footing with his white oppressors.
- Lines 16-17: Here, the speaker is expressing his hope again (although really, it looks more like assurance – go, assertiveness!). He's implying that by "eating well" and "growing strong," he'll become so beautiful (which is probably meant to be both literal and metaphorical – a symbol for power and education and strength) that the white people who enslaved him will be ashamed that they ever did.