An Analysis Of Langston Hughes's 'Dream Deferred'

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Langston Hughes was an activist for the African-American community and made significant artistic contributions to the Harlem Renaissance throughout his career. In one of his most famous poems, “Harlem [Dream Deferred]”, he addresses the limitations and oppression of African Americans after the Great Depression. Many African Americans dreamed of equality, but often times that dream became neglected and pushed aside. In his poem, Hughes responds to a question about a deferred dream with a series of vivid similes, inquiring what happens to a constantly ignored dream. The poem begins by introducing the limitations of the African Americans’ hopes and dreams in the form of a question. Hughes asks, “What happens to a dream deferred” (1). Here, the dream refers to the African Americans’ yearning for equality and freedom, and Hughes wants to examine what happens when that dream is persistently pushed aside. The spacing directly after this line conjures a sense of silence as if allowing a moment to contemplate the question. The lines following this question explore several possible outcomes, and each answer represents the ruin of a forgotten dream.…show more content…
The first question Hughes asks is, “Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun” (2-3). The grape’s evolution into a raisin is a slow, gradual process. By cutting the grape directly from the vine, it is left to wither without any sustenance. The deterioration goes almost unnoticed by the average person. By calling the dream a raisin, it implies that the dream once had enormous potential like a grape. Though a raisin may taste okay, it doesn’t compare to the succulent taste of a grape. This correlates to the African American dream, suggesting that once it has been ignored for too long, the potential will be sucked dry and leave behind only an unhappy
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