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Dreams Deferred In Langston Hughes’s Poem, Harlem

1060 words - 5 pages

In Langston Hughes’s poem, Harlem, he questions what happens to a “dream deferred” and he lists multiple possibilities that all involve a dream going away (Hughes, Harlem). This poem seems to define Hughes’s life of not wanting to see his own dreams pass him by despite moving from place to place due to his parents’ separation and economic struggles (Otfinoski). Beyond that, Hughes faced racism that could have gotten in the way of his own goals, but instead of letting this deter him, he used it as fuel to pursue a literary career. During the 20th century, Hughes’s worldview was greatly impacted by the Civil Rights Movement and the effects of the World War I, which caused his poetry to ...view middle of the document...

Growing up in the early 1900s certainly was not easy for Americans and for an African American, like Langston Hughes, it was even tougher. “As the 20th century opened, most African Americans lived in the South and worked on farms under a newly developed rule of society known as the Jim Crow...they were segregated form whites; and they faced discrimination in early every venue of life” (Johnson). This had a bigger effect on African Americans when the Great Depression entered because black people suffered from a dearth of job opportunities. However, times were not always bad. During the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance formed because of the number of emerging black writers (“Langston Hughes”). Racism made things difficult in the South, but as thousands of blacks migrated north looking for new opportunities, during and after World War II, Harlem attracted gifted black writers, artists, and musicians (Otfinoski).
When Langston Hughes discovered the poetry of Carl Sandburg in high school, Hughes gained the desire to write poetry by reaching ordinary black people who may have never read poetry (“Langston Hughes”). Hughes felt a mystical connection with African Americans and it was expressed through his poem, American Heartbreak, which is a very dark poem that shows the perspective of a destitute, black person (Otfinoski). But, Hughes also shows that he is confident as the “darker brother” and that one day, everyone will be equal (Hughes, I, Too, Sing America). He looks forward to the day when “there’d be no Jim Crow birds left in our sky” in the perspective of a black soldier in World War II, and the soldier wonders “when I’ve helped this world to save, shall I still be color’s slave?” (Hughes, Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?) In the poem, he wants Victory Day to be the day when the blacks are free. Langston Hughes once wrote, “We young Negro artists who we create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame” (Otfinoski). With his determination and sanguine personality, Hughes created hope for the future African Americans through his poetry, although some of black and white critics did not enjoy...

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