An African American's Dreams and “Harlem” by Langston Hughes Essay

An African American's Dreams and “Harlem” by Langston Hughes Essay

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“Harlem” by Langston Hughes is a poem that talks about what happens when we postpones our dreams. The poem is made up of a series of similes and it ends with a metaphor. The objective of the poem is to get us to think about what happens to a dream that is put off, postponed; what happens when we create our very own shelve of dreams? The “dream” refers to a goal in life, not the dreams we have while sleeping, but our deepest desires. There are many ways to understand this poem; it varies from person to person. Some may see this poem as talking about just dreams in general. Others may see it as African-American’s dreams.
The reason I say African American’s dreams is because the author published this poem in 1951, the time period where there was much racism and civil rights violations against African Americans. Another reason is that the author is an African American himself. Finally, the biggest reason is that the author named the poem “Harlem.” Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, long known as a major African-American cultural and business center. It was associated for much of the twentieth century with black culture, crime and poverty. It is the capital of African-American life in the United States. The author named this poem “Harlem” because he was addressing mainly the black community. Still, the poem’s message is very clear: if one postpones his/her dream(s) it can have a damaging affects.
People always say that first impressions are very important and what people remember most because it is usually what makes one like or dislike someone or something. This poem aids that saying. The first time I read this poem, the first line caught my attention right away: “What happens to a dream deferred?” ...


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...permitted to accomplish his/her dreams and loses all hope he/she may commit something horrible.
One’s dream or goal is critical in what makes a person useful and active in society. But what happens when that person is told that he/she cannot fulfill his/her dream just yet? That they have to wait until the laws change or society changes in order for them to be allowed to be a doctor, a lawyer, a priest or wherever his/her talent seems
to be pointing at. What if that person gets stuck doing another job that he/she lacks interest in and that talent turns into something negative just because society didn’t allowed him/her to fulfill his/her dreams? What now? What is going to happen to that person? If a person with his/her shelved dream loses all hope and is so filled up with anger, he/she might explode with resentment and may commit suicide, homicide or maybe both.

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