'Harlem Dream Deferred' By Langston Hughes

Decent Essays
“Harlem (Dream Deferred),” by Langston Hughes, poses a question that Hughes clearly feels is of significance. There is no guesswork involved in figuring out the question addressed by the poem; in fact, it is clearly stated right at the beginning. Hughes writes, “What happens to a dream deferred?” (1). To defer something is to push it back or put it on hold. So, the question Hughes asks here is quite simple: what happens to dreams when they are pushed aside, never to be realized? Though this question may easily be posed during any time frame, it is granted special significance when considered within the social climate in which it was written. Blatant racism plagued the country, causing the dreams of many African-Americans to seem so far out …show more content…
/ Or does it explode?” (Hughes 9-11). These lines are set apart from the rest of Hughes’ pondering, each in its own way. For example, “Maybe it just sags / like a heavy load” (Hughes 9-10) is the one and only declarative statement to be found in the poem. Consequently, even though it includes the qualifier “maybe,” it conveys a bit more weight than the questioning of possibilities found above it. In these lines, “Harlem (Dream Deferred)” suggests that, rather than die, perhaps an unrealized dream simply sags heavy at the side of the dreamer, adding weight to life’s baggage and difficulty to its journey. As for line eleven of Hughes’ work, which reads simply, “Or does it explode?” it is positioned alone and almost as a pairing bookend with the opening inquiry. As a result, the reader may conclude that this is the most likely outcome of pushing back a dream. Perhaps, if never attained, a dream will simply grow too large to fit inside the heart of the dreamer and eventually combust. Would this be a good or bad type of explosion? In other words, is it the brilliant and beautiful explosion of fireworks, or the terrifying and destructive explosion of dynamite? Hughes leaves that up for interpretation. In any case, “Harlem (Dream Deferred)” communicates clearly that, once born, a dream must go somewhere. All in all, what happens to the dream is ultimately the responsibility of the

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Thus, social repercussion is one of the main causes behind one’s surrendered dreams. In consequence, forgotten dreams live forever in one’s conscience. This is the main theme of Hughes poem Dreams Deferred. The author describes how deeply people carry the burden of a deferred dream, by saying: “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load”(8). Delayed dreams will always be a reminder of the sacrifices that he or she did not make in order to fulfill it.…

    • 1156 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Not to mention that they wanted the debut of the atomic bomb to be ¨sufficiently spectacular¨ and for the whole world to see America’s power (Wellerstein). This being the one of main reasons for targeting Hiroshima is not morally right, and the U.S. should’ve chosen an area that was strictly military and/or industry.…

    • 1709 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In writing “Domination of Black”, Wallace Stevens creates a sensory vortex, forcing the reader to challenge the relationship between perception and reality. By disrupting conventional situational comprehensibility, Stevens forces the reader to look beyond what they are immediately able to recognize in order to get to the innate insubstantiality of “reality” In creating a mirrored structure Stevens does not allow the reader to escape the sense of being overwhelmed but rather continues throwing them back into the experience. There is no better word to describe this poem other than an experience, in which everything the reader thinks they understand will be flipped. The first and last stanzas end with the same eerie phrase, “And I remembered the cry of the peacocks”(10), and begin with equal number of syllables in the opening line. The last stanza directly mimics…

    • 1719 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In the poem “Harlem”, author Langston Hughes, utilizes literary devices, such as, the overall structure of the poem, and similes, that contain imagery, and particular word choices to represent the main message. The principle message of poem is that the delaying of dreams can lead to disastrous results. To begin, The free verse, and meter make up the structure of the poem. The poem consists of six questions, and very timid, declarative statement. The poem is able to grow based on the first line, “What happens to a dream deferred?” (1).…

    • 519 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream.” (Poe,) Poe has a more dark and somber outlook on life, creating such a dark theme; however, Updike performs the same kind of manipulation creating a speech that is delivered after death, about someone. This sort of presentation implies that the late friend or loved one took life for granted which can be just as disappointing as not seeing the beauty in…

    • 835 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Novels are just an escape from reality. These works of literature transport their readers into perfect worlds for a short period of time before they must come back into the real world. Sadly, a great realization is that the world in these different works of literary merit do not have a perfect world, especially perfect endings. In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, the world is shattered, including the ending. An ending of a novel will never be perfect because it is merely a reflection of real-life; learning to live with uncertainty.…

    • 957 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Race Relations Approach

    • 1553 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Unsteady and unreliable, race relations is an ongoing tension in the country with lines being drawn in the sand to take sides. Approaches that were started to help ease relations of volatile times during racial inequality started out meaning well. However, took on interpretations of its own based off of changing laws and or societal views at the time of the approach. In other words, they meant well when they started but often then ended up deviating from the original message. Two present day extremes that are seen with approaches to race relations are very different from one another, with some stating that borders need closed to keep specific races out, and then the creating of groups such as Black Likes Matter movement trying to navigate tensions between our citizens.…

    • 1553 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Although emancipation eventually came, the treatment of African Americans in the United States remained barbaric and discriminatory. In his coveted novel Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead creates a unique story that resonates with many themes and issues today. Just because we don’t know about the problems and the injustice, does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Many problems with race remain unresolved, because discussions about the systematic oppression of minorities in this country never occurs. Have the states really progressed fully?…

    • 1384 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For instance, he says “All of us know of the so-called Negro Renaissance of the 20’s was not so gay and sparkling beneath the surface as it looked.” Hughes argues that people need to look at and accept the reality of Negro living during this period. People may have acted as if the movement to Harlem gave people freedom but truthfully, it didn’t. The whites still had the upper-hand and the Negro’s were still left at the bottom struggling to get up. The Negro was still suppressed and subjected to being below. African Americans weren’t given the same opportunity as the whites.…

    • 1015 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Macklemore then explains how upsetting this fake dream can be to people. Since Langston Hughes, wrote during the time of the civil rights movement in America, he focused on the dream of equality and how it was upsetting to others because their dreams were not reachable. Since, they both focused on how…

    • 862 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays