Langston Hughes: Harlem a Dream Deferred Essay

689 Words Feb 20th, 2013 3 Pages
A dream cast aside can rankle a person’s will in the deepest of ways. It tends to permeate their every thought and becomes an unshakable burden. In the poem “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” by Langston Hughes, the language used describes how a suspended goal can frustratingly linger. The writer first poses a question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” He then compares a postponed dream to a dried up raisin or a festering sore, giving a reader the idea of how treacherous it can be to put off one’s goals. What only can make it worse is when we have little control over our fate; when the determination of whether or not our goals are achievable is decided by someone else as was done with the African American population in the United States …show more content…
Hughes offers many responses to this question, all equally unpleasant. In using similes, the writer creates imagery allowing a reader to imagine a festering sore or a piece of rotten meat and understand how toxic a postponed dream can be for a person.

Equally unpleasant is allowing oneself to “sugar over”, to simply nod ones head and accept the crushing of ones dreams as reality. To be sweet to those who’ve taken away every ounce of one’s dignity can be just as irksome. Then the idea that was once a dream will linger evermore, weighing a person down, sagging like a heavy load. In the final statement of the poem, the writer leaves it as a separate sort of thought, “Or does it explode?” This final question seems more like a warning, an indication of the author being at wit’s end. A dream deferred can linger so long that a person can no longer bear the load and they may retaliate. In this instance, the writer as well as his fellow African Americans were beyond frustrated with the exhaustion of carrying the load of their unfulfilled dreams. Harlem’s ideals had been forgotten.

From the language used to the thoughtful structure, “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” speaks to a reader. The writer creates strong imagery that can be connected to the situation he’s describing. A dream deferred really takes its toll on a person, or as proved by the context surrounding the poem, a group of people. To have ones goals setback is hard enough, but having them

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