In “Song of Myself” Whitman attempts to speak on behalf of the entire American population. He tries to pull the reader into a world of many possibilities. Whitman makes a point of informing the reader that the “I” is not him, but everyone. The “self” is the reader, whoever the reader may be. The first few sections invite the reader in and encourage them to think for themselves, “You shall listen to all sides and filter them for your self” (Whitman 2211). Whitman wants people to throw off societal conventions and think for themselves about the issues at hand.
Whitman’s writing strategy throughout “Song of Myself” is very purposeful. At times he gets very specific, naming exact things the “self” is while other parts are very vague, leaving them up for interpretation by the reader. Whitman attempts to speak on behalf of America by using vague language, metaphors, and contradictions in his writing. He allows for much reader interpretation in “Song of Myself.”
At several places throughout “Song of Myself” Whitman implies that all people are equal and all people are connected. Whitman says, “And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters an...
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...lizes that he cannot tell stories that have not been told, and therefore cannot represent all of America. But he can speak to and represent much of it.
Can Whitman speak for all of America? No, and Whitman realizes this. He knows he can’t tell stories that have never been told. However, his intention was also to make Americans take a look at issues through another perspective. “Song of Myself” allows the reader to take on many different forms and see things they might have otherwise missed. “Song of Myself” is an equalizer. It makes the reader look at the lives of others, lives they will never lead, and try to see things from that point of view. Whitman cannot speak for all of America, nobody can, but he can make Americans come together. “Song of Myself” shows similarities in all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or religion and that speaks to all of America.
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