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Dreams On Hold In Harlem By Langston Hughes

815 words - 4 pages

In a person’s everyday life, their driving force is their dream. In Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem,” he asks “What happens to a dream deferred?” (Hughes, 1277). The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a dream as a visionary creation of the imagination and deferred meaning postponed (Merriam Webster). This poem expresses the general feeling that African Americans had. The war was over and so was the Great Depression, but for African Americans, nothing seem to change. Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem” basically states what happens when dreams are placed on hold. When dreams are deferred is giving up an option? Or do others possess that control?
African Americans dreamed of being freed from slavery. But once that happened, everything still seems the same. African Americans were free from slavery for nearly hundreds of years but still they remained in segregated schools. They were not treated fair.
In the opening of the poem a dream deferred is compared to a raisin. Raisins are shriveled up which were once moist, healthy looking grapes. This is a metaphor that states that a dream can start off good once deferred it is like a raisin in the sun. It shrivels up and become dark because the sun has dried it to its capacity. Then he asks “Or fester like a sore and then run” which symbolizes an infection. Dreams that are deferred will infect and irritate your mind. Langton Hughes then compares the smell of rotten meat to a deferred dream, which can be viewed in two different concepts. When something goes bad and tends to smell awful, it is very sickening. On the other hand, if deeper looked upon, he could be referring to the smell of lifeless bodies because this was how he felt that all African Americans felt in the 1900s. This could go back to race and how everyone should work together because if anything is left out too long it will begin to rot or decay. Dreams that are deferred allude to the powerfulness of something awful and its effect on a human’s mind. The speaker then implies that a deferred dream is like a “crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet.” (Hughes, 1277). If left out for long periods of time then the crust will become unalterable. An unalterable crust that is hard to use could become aggravating. When things get complicated, some dreams seem unachievable which could be stressful....

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