I Sing The Body Electric Analysis

Superior Essays
1. In a sentence or two, what is the specific argument of "I Sing the Body Electric"? Why does this argument seem so important to Whitman (e.g., what is he speaking against?)? Overall, the specific argument made in Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric” is that every single human life is sacred. Whether you’re a man or woman, black or white, Whitman argues that we are all comprised of the same organs and body parts, and are all equal at the end of the day. He writes, “Each belongs here or anywhere, just as much as the well-off—just as much as you” (Whitman 86), arguing that despite race, gender, or nationality, each individual human being has their own place in the world and deserves to have a life just like anyone else. Who are we to …show more content…
In the first six verses, Whitman builds up an argument regarding the sacredness of life, whether man or woman, fireman or swimmer, forcing the reader to agree with his reasoning. However, once there is an overall consensus on this aforementioned claim, Whitman uses his already agreed upon argument and applies it to the issue of slavery. This technique forces the poem’s audience to concur with a logical proposition regarding “peaceful” circumstances, then asks them to apply that same logic that was agreed upon to more controversial subjects such as slavery and human auctions. Additionally, Whitman also used a technique comparable to a Venus flytrap by starting “I Sing the Body Electric” innocently enough, then trapping the readers with something they didn’t expect. Readers start out the poem believing it has no special meaning, but halfway through, Whitman introduces his passion-fueled message having his anti-slavery argument engulf the rest of the poem. To further support his pro-humanity message, Whitman also employs the use of vivid imagery to showcase the indisputable fact that we are all biologically the same, regardless of our race. The ninth and final stanza includes nothing but vivid imagery of organs, body parts, actions, and characteristics found within every single human being, with lines addressing things such as …show more content…
Due to this, “I Sing the Body Electric” is ingeniously crafted, simply because Whitman’s techniques help establish his argument and his imagery helps make his message concrete, beautifully expressing the immorality of slavery. Taking the sociohistorical milieu into consideration, one must remember that slavery was a very hot-button issue at the time, and was a topic that many didn’t necessarily want to address in fear of a spark of intense debate. Because of this, Whitman was most likely apprehensive to blatantly state his opinions regarding slavery, thus resulting in his aforementioned “backwards” argument approach and “trapping” of readers. Additionally, it was a common argument at the time that African Americans and immigrants were different from the “superior” white Americans, and were therefore worthless. This may be why Whitman chose to use the imagery that he did. The continuous listing of identical body parts, mannerisms, and physical characteristics helps show the nitty gritty pieces of life that makes us all the same. This proposes the reader to ponder just how one’s life can be “worthless” compared to another’s when we are all the same underneath, effectively dismantling the argument

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