In our journey through life, we all have certain expectations of how we would like our lives to be. All of us strive to reach a certain level of self-actulization and acceptance. It could thus be said that all of us live a dream. Some of these individual dreams inevitably become the collective dream of many people. In "Harlem (A Dream Deferred)", Langston Hughes makes use of symbolism as well as powerful sensory imagery to show us the emotions that he and his people go through in their quest for freedom and equality. By using questions he builds the poem towards an exciting climax.
Hughes wants to know "What happens to a dream deferred?" He asks this question as an introduction to possible reactions of people whose dreams do not materialize. The image he uses in the first question is that of a raisin. He asks the question; "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" He draws a parallel between grapes losing its juices in the sun, to dreams losing some of its vitality when its realization is deferred for a long time.
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