Essay on Dreams on Hold in Harlem by Langston Hughes

Essay on Dreams on Hold in Harlem by Langston Hughes

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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 bac...


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...reams should not reflect no hope, no life, a sore that is fester implying infected or stinks like rotten meat meaning the smell of death. Nor should it be compared to crust over like a syrupy sweet meaning undesirable on the outside and sweet on the inside. “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load” should not be compared to dreams because a dream should not be a burden. (Hughes, 1277). Nor should a viewed or questioned “does it explode” because a dream should not become so hopeless, infected, lifeless, undesirable, or a burden that it would cause an explosion of depression. Dreams should not compare to any of this, they should be achievable; made into reality. Dreams should be something that someone can strive toward and look forward to achieving in real life- something that pushes you forward. A dream, once precious, healthy, juicy, and vibrant, if differed will die.

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