Dreams are aspirations that people hope to achieve in their lifetime. They are a motive that drives lives to accomplish goals. When trying to achieve these goals, people can do anything. However, what happens when a dream is deferred? A dream cast aside can frustrate a person in the deepest way. It tends to permeate their thoughts and becomes an unshakable burden. In the poem “Harlem,” Langston Hughes, through literary technique, raises strong themes through a short amount of language.
The poem begins with a question: "What happens to a dream deferred?” The speaker of the poem at this point is unnamed. By not knowing the speaker, the question is strengthened, as the deferred dream is the ...view middle of the document...
Furthermore, the withering heat of the sun causes this drying up to happen. Because the sun surrounds everywhere on Earth, it is inevitable for the grape not to dry up—just like the inevitability of the dream of African American community to dry up and become withered.
The next answer to the initial question is the image of a "fester like a sore -- and then [it] run[s].” This image conjures pain and nastiness because the festered sore is an infection. This infection heals with proper medical treatment but as time progress, the infection can worsen due to an inability to get medication. When having a festered sore, it is already bad. However, when the sore pops and starts to run, it is a much nastier and painful experience than before. This sore can represent the situation of many African Americans and the community of Harlem. Because the African American community suffered various injustice throughout history, whether it be internally or externally, the feelings and thoughts they held bursts: it runs causing more pain, physically and spiritually, to the individual. Moreover, the dream of the African American community was delayed multiple times. An aspiration that has not been pursued becomes increasingly painful, just like the sore, as time progresses.
Another answer given by the speaker is whether the deferred dream "stink[s] like rotten meat.” According to the speaker, the qualities possessed by rotten meat is present in the deferred dream. The stinky and unpleasant scents leave a bitter aftertaste that can cause death to a person. . This metaphor implies the resentment and bitter feelings that the African American community had after the oppression and discrimination they faced. As a result, the community became frustrated in achieving their deferred dream that has been blocked many times.
Furthermore, the speaker also asks whether the dream will “crust and sugar over—/ like a syrupy sweet?” This can be interpreted of two ways. The first way it may be presented is by using an image to show that the dream is not an enjoyable sweet treat, but rather so sweet, that it is disgusting. It can refer to the African American community sugarcoating themselves in the hopes that they can bear the fact that they cannot achieve their dreams. Another way of interpreting this line can be in a sense of decay. The dream began as being a perfect syrupy sweet but as time moves forward, it slowly rots by having a crust forming over it.
Three images that the speaker describes, a...