A Dream Deferred

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A Dream Deferred "A Dream Deferred" What happens to a dream deferred? (a) Does it dry up (b) like a raisin in the sun? (c) Or fester like a sore- (d) And then run? (c) Does it stink like rotten meat? (e) Or crust and sugar over- like a syrupy sweet? (e) Maybe it just sags (f) like a heavy load. (g) Or does it explode? (g) Born in Joplin, Missouri, James Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was born into an abolitionist family. As the grandson of James Mercer Langston, the first Black American to be elected to public office in 1855, Hughes attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio, but began writing poetry in the eighth grade, and was selected as Class Poet. His father didn't think he would be able to make a living at writing, and encouraged him to pursue a more practical career. His father paid his tuition to Columbia University on the grounds he study engineering. After a short time, Langston dropped out of the program with a B+ average, all the while he continued writing poetry. (Hughes) The poetry of Langston Hughes, the poet laureate of Harlem, is an effective commentary on the condition of blacks in America during the 20th Century. Hughes places particular emphasis on Harlem, a black area in New York that became a destination of many hopeful blacks in the first half of the 1900ís. In much of Hughes' poetry, a theme that runs throughout is that of a "dream deferred." The recurrence of a "dream deferred" in several Hughes poems, especially this one, paint a clear picture of the disappointment and dismay that blacks in America faced in Harlem. Furthermore, as the poem develops, so does the feeling behind "A Dream Deferred," growing more serious and angrier with each new line. To understand Hughes' idea of the "dream deferred," one must have an understanding of the history of Harlem, for each and every line in this poem has a figurative, not literal, meaning and relates precisely to his experience in New York. First intended to be an upper class white community, Harlem was the home of many fancy brownstones that attracted wealthy whites. Between 1906 and 1910, when whites were forcing blacks out of their neighborhoods in uptown Manhattan, the blacks began to move into Harlem. Due to racial fears, the whites in the area moved out. Between 1910 and the early 1940's, more blacks began flooding into the area from all over the world, fleeing from the racial intolerance of the South and the economic problems of the Caribbean and Latin America.

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