Modernism generally consists of a few main characteristics. Some of these characteristics are "dissatisfaction with tradition" (Byrd), relationships between people and the social structure, optimism, distrust in anything other than one's self, and a focus on saying something about what is going on instead of just reporting that it is going on (Byrd). "I, Too" by Langston Hughes, shows many of these traits in different ways. There are many direct examples such as lines 16-17 "They'll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed--" (Hughes, Langston "I, Too"). These show his optimism for a better day in social structure. Many things happened in his early life that may have led him to believe such things and to put them down on the page. There were many experiences he went through in which he experience racial tensions (Langston Hughes Biography), and those most likely led to the common theme in his poems of racial tension. Langston Hughes was a Harlem Renaissance writer during the Modernist period and meshed both of these similar writings together for prize winning and memorable poems such as "I, Too", and "Children's Rhymes".
An artistic movement that captured the mind and spirit of African Americans in the 1920s was the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes Biography). This movement occurred simultaneously with the Modernism movement, and it is also a part of it. Hughes was a writer of the Harlem Renaissance and writes with many of the same characteristics as modernism (Hughes, Langston). "I, Too" is definitely about relationships in social structure, since the poem is about the "darker brother" (Hughes, Langston "I, Too") being sent to the kitchen when company comes, but tomorrow will "be at the table when company comes" (Hughes, Langston "I, Too"). Most modernists "believe the world is created in the act of perceiving it" (Lorcher). In "I, Too", Hughes also makes it seem that the character in this poem has control over how the world is. Inner strength is another modernist characteristic that Langston Hughes uses in "I, Too". In the poem, the main character gets sent to the kitchen if company is coming, but Hughes write that he still laughs, eats well, and has fun (Hughes, Langston "I, Too").
Langston Hughes's life contributed to his poetry in many ways. Though he did not write poetry until he was a bit older, Hughes was named the class poet in elementary school; this title sparked the interest in the first place (Langston Hughes Biography). Some of the feelings of dissatisfaction may have come from environments that Hughes spent time in while he was a young adult. He went to college at Columbia University but did not enjoy the atmosphere, so he decided to leave (Langston Hughes Biography). According to Langston Hughes Biography, the most experience he had with racial tension was when he lived in Washington D.C. for a short period of time. It is clear that Hughes wanted to do something about racial equality, because he only stayed in a place if he was comfortable and there was not too much tension.
Judging by Another Langston Hughes poem, Children's Rhymes, he writes mainly about racial differences. In this poem he speaks of how everything that white children believe in is different for African American children (Hughes, Langston Children's Rhymes).
What don't bug them white kids
sure bugs me:
We know everybody ain't free.
The common character in his poems seems to be an adult. In "I, Too", Hughes writes that African Americans are part of America too, but in Children's Rhymes, he "implies that if Blacks have been excluded outright from the American Dream, White Americans have also denied themselves the substance of those libertarian ideals that have been enshrined in the sacred rhetoric, and history, of the American Revolution" (Brown). Countee Cullen's poem, Incident, really only has the isolation in common with Hughes's "I, Too". Cullen's character is a child, and Hughes's character is an adult. Though isolation is present, Hughes is a little more optimistic with his poem and shows a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, while Cullen chooses to leave the reader with feelings of rejection and isolation.
In conclusion, Langston Hughes used Modernism and life experiences to write his poetry. Modernism has a lot to do with dissatisfaction with social standings and both "I, Too", and "Children's Rhymes" show his dissatisfaction with African Americans position in society. There are many situations, such as being named class poet (Langston Hughes Biography), which helped get Hughes's writing career in place and helped give him inspiration for poems. There are a quite a few differences between Hughes and Cullen when it comes to the feelings they put through their poems based on their poems, "I, Too" and "Incident", respectively. All in all Langston Hughes is a very Modernist author who was also a very prominent writer in the Harlem Renaissance.

Works Cited

Brown, Lloyd W. "Bloom's Literary Reference Online." Facts On File Online Databases. Web. 03 May 2010. < BLTTAD006&SingleRecord=True.>.

Byrd, Steven. "Modern America, 1914." The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Web. 02 May 2010. <>.

Cullen, Countee. "Incident by Countée Cullen." PoemHunter.Com - Thousands of Poems and Poets.. Poetry Search Engine. Web. 03 May 2010. <>.

"Langston Hughes Biography - Life, Children, Parents, Name, Story, History, School, Mother, Book, Information, Born, College, Time, Year." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Web. 02 May 2010. <>.

Hughes, Langston. "Children's Rhymes." PoemHunter.Com - Thousands of Poems and Poets.. Poetry Search Engine. Web. 03 May 2010. <>.

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Lorcher, Trent. "Modernism in Literature: What Is Modernism?" Find Health, Education, Science & Technology Articles, Reviews, How-To and Tech Tips At Bright Hub - Apply To Be A Writer Today! 26 Dec. 2009. Web. 02 May 2010. <>.

Langston Hughes is commonly remembered as one of the most influential writers of the Modernism and Harlem Renaissance periods. He is frequently known as the “first African American author to support himself through his writing” (“Langston Hughes”). One of Hughes’ more famous poems, “I, Too” tells of the African American’s growing strength and their struggle to be seen as equals in America. The structure of "I, Too" classifies it as a Modernist poem, and it also shows how the time period that Hughes lived in affected his writings (Bloom). Many of Hughes poems, including "I, Too," are about African Americans' hardships post-World War I. This theme is seen in many other Modernist works ("Early Twentieth Century").

Its spontaneous form and unstructured rhyme scheme are characteristic of Modernism (“Early Twentieth Century”). The stanzas of “I, Too” all differ in length, and there is no rhyme scheme (Hughes). Also, it was written during the Harlem Renaissance, one of the defining historical events of Modernism (“Early Twentieth Century.) In Modernism, one of the traits of the “self” was a sense of isolation from the rest of society, like the African Americans felt during the early twentieth century (“Early Twentieth Century”). This is seen is “I, Too” when Hughes says that they send him “to eat in the kitchen when company comes.” Another characteristic of the “self” was that this segregation led to self-awareness, which Hughes also writes about (“Early Twentieth Century”). He writes that while he is eating in the kitchen, he continues to grow stronger, and that eventually he will be “at the table when company comes” (Hughes). This shows that he knows his position, but that he will one day become equal with the rest of America.

Hughes’ life impacted his writing greatly. After moving from Cleveland to New York City following his graduation from high school, he enrolled at Columbia University (Bloom). He didn’t reenroll after his freshman year because he found the environment “stifling.” He found what he was looking for in the neighborhood of Harlem, however, where he settled down after traveling the world and a stint as a newspaper correspondent (Bloom). Many of his most famous poems were inspired by the neighborhood where he spent most of his life, including “Harlem,” “Night Funeral in Harlem,” and “The Weary Blues” (“Langston Hughes”). There, Hughes’ made friends with artists, writers, actors, and other figures of the Harlem Renaissance, which no doubt inspired his creativity. The rise of black artists and writers during the Harlem Renaissance also motivated many of Hughes’ poems, such as “I, Too,” “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too,” “Let America Be America Again,” and “Theme for English B” (“Langston Hughes”). He never married or had any true friends, though, and was lonely his entire life (Bloom). A good amount of his poems are about dreams, either about America or real personal dreams, which could be attributed to the time period. After World War I, black Americans found a new self-determination, and many, including Langston Hughes, wrote about that new-found sense of self (“Early Twentieth Century”).

“I, Too” is like Langston Hughes’ other poems in that its main theme is the African Americans’ plight after World War I. The main message of “I, Too” is that African Americans are hidden away, but while they’re hidden away they gain power, and that one day they will rise up to be one with the rest of America. This theme is also found in “Let America Be America Again,” in which Hughes pleads for Americans to allow the United States to go back to the country of dreams that it was made out to be (“Langston Hughes”). In “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too,” Hughes talks of African Americans fighting in World War II and how they do everything that white soldiers do while fighting, but that he wonders if, when the war is over, the soldiers will be able to celebrate like the rest of America (“Langston Hughes”). “I, Too” is like Wallace Stevens’ poem “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” in that they both have a "Modernist" structure and no rhyme scheme.

"I, Too" is a classic Modernist poem. Its theme and form are characteristic of the Modernism period, and also of the Harlem Renaissance. This time affected Hughes' writings greatly, seeing as many of his poems are about Harlem and African Americans' efforts to become one with other Americans. "I, Too," shares this common theme other Modernists' works, also. Langston Hughes' poem "I, Too" is still celebrated for its impact today, and continues to be remembered as one of Hughes' best and most famous poems.

Works Cited
Bloom, Harold. Bloom's Major Poets. Langston Hughes ed. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1998. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <, Langston&SearchStyle=Keyword&RecType=Biography&CurTab=Bio&RecCountVal=1&AllRecCount=617&TopThCount=136&BioCount=246&AnCrCount=190&OverSynCount=4&VideoCount=2&OrderBy=>.

Hughes, Langston. "I, Too, Sing America." Academy of American Poets, 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <>.

Hughes, Langston. "Let America Be America Again." Academy of American Poets, 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <>.

Hughes, Langston. "Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?" Academy of American Poets, 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <>.

"Langston Hughes." Academy of American Poets, 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2010. <>.

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 9: Langston Hughes." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. California State University Stanislaus, 11 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <>.

Reuben, Paul P. "Early Twentieth Century: A Brief Introduction." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. California State University Stanislaus, 24 May 2009. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <>.

Stevens, Wallace. "" Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Foundation, 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <>.