In “Harlem” and “The Ballad of the Landlord”, poet Langston Hughes shows not only how the United States treats people of color and tries to keep them down, but also how it denies them three of the most basic things that our constitution is supposed to be provide: a right to pursue their dreams. The Oxford English Dictionary describes the word “deferred” as to, “Put off (an action or event) to a later time; postpone.” (Murray, Bradley, Craigie, Onions 1). This is a good word to describe what can happen to the dreams of African Americans in Ameica. In “Harlem”, Hughes describes how African American’s dreams are often forced to take a backseat. This happens because African Americans are put at a disadvantage in this country and often need to work twice as hard to do the same as others who aren’t oppressed. Speaking of dreams being deferred, in the line “Maybe it just sags Like a heavy load” (Mays 1043, lines 9-10, Mays), Hughes describes the way that African Americans can feel hopeless because they are forced to put their dreams aside. Their dreams can even die because of the disadvantages they must overcome. In lines 1 and 2, Hughes writes, “Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun?” (Mays 1043, line 1-2). Dreams dying is a very real thing and can happen to African Americans. The oppression they face in this so-called “home of the free” can cause their dreams to never be realized. The last line in the poem is very striking; “Or does it just explode?” (1043, line 11, Mays) In
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Langston Hughes’ poetry frequently cites the “American Dream” from the perspective of those who were disenfranchised in American, such as the Native Americans, African Americans, poor farmers, and oppressed immigrants. The American Dream was defined by James Truslow Adams as, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Langston Hughes). Hughes’ poetry portrays the glories of equality, liberty, and the “American Dream” as the disenfranchised were trapped beneath oppression, poverty, and prejudice. Whose dreams are smothered and buried in a life characterized by the anguish of survival.
Thirdly, Hughes writes a message of dreaming big in Dream Variations. “To fling my arms wide in some place of the sun…That is my dream” (Lines 1-2 & 9). Hughes dreams of being able to freely walk among white people, but is unable to do so due to the time era. That is why he continually dreams. C. Dale Young once said, “You are more and, sometimes, you are less.” In certain areas of America during this time period, those of color were treated fairly well, whereas in other areas, blacks were treated as though they were less than human! Sometimes people mean more in one place than they do in another place. That, though, is why it is so important to continue to dream. People need to push to make their dreams become a reality. Hughes pushed himself to his fullest extent in his life, and now he is one of the most respected writers in American history. All of this shows that we must never stop
One of Hughes most famous poems, “Harlem(Dream Deferred)” had a great impact by posing lots of questioning. According to critic Tom Hanson, this poem is just that simple because it gives a bunch of undesirable answers to the same question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Hanson also says how this poem refers almost completely to an unsolved problem (Hanson, Harlem). The poem gives four rather unpleasant interrogatives and one declarative answer followed by the sixth possibility, “Or does it explode?” which is supposed to be a question to make a reader really think. There are several ways to interpret the meaning of the final line, and the most sensible explanation is, the African American community is “deferring dreams” and in doing so their dreams explode in terms of the chance to act is gone. Some may say Hughes presented an unattractive view
Langston Hughes was the most famous poet from Harlem, writing during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hughes wanted to show the lives of the black community through his poems and the things they faced in America at that time like racism. He would compare the ways African American experience was different from the white Americans. At the time he was writing, slavery was over for sixty years already, but blacks were still treated unequally everyday. African Americans had a dream that was being held back from them, called a deferred dream. What is a dream deferred? Langston Hughes relates his sequence of poems, “Lenox Avenue Mural,” to this question. It is said that, “The “dream deferred” is the dream of African Americans: a dream of freedom, equality,
The short but inspirational poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes addresses what happens to aspirations that are postponed or lost. The brief, mind provoking questions posed throughout the poem allow the readers to reflect--on the effects of delaying our dreams. In addition, the questions give indications about Hughes' views on deferred dreams.
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 paints a clear picture of the disappointment and dismay that blacks in America faced in Harlem. Furthermore, as each poem develops, so does the feeling behind a"dream deferred," growing more serious and even angry with each new stanza.<br><br>To understand Hughes' idea of the"dream deferred," one
‘America’ is a complex, layered idea; one that becomes all the more complex when the deeply embedded construct of race comes into play. As a black man born into a time of overt racial prejudice, Langston Hughes was all too familiar with the double consciousness that came with life as an American minority. This roller coaster is the subject of the vast majority of his literary work and has continued to be a major presence and inspiration for literary work everywhere today. Hughes shows a deep loyalty to the ideals that brought the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights into fruition and, through repeated motifs of the American Dream, seeks to bring about calm in a time of social and political unrest.
Langston Hughes, a gentleman of color who was a leader to the African American community is a poet, who according to an editor of “Harlem Renaissance” portrayed the truth rather than a sugar-coated version of how life was in Harlem, the hub of the black community. Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” describes how colored people live in poverty, in the poem “Dream Variations” Hughes’ dream was symbolized by nature, and in the short story “Slave on the Block,” racism and life of a domestic slave are shown from his point of view. The time when these pieces of work were created was an era when black artistry was opening the eyes of white America to how poorly Afro Americans were treated; this movement was called the Harlem Renaissance, as said in “Harlem Renaissance”. In this movement, Hughes was a force of nature that pursued equality among all races, yet still maintaining integrity and pride. White America was not a welcoming place for people of melanin, white people were not sentimental or generous with them so people say it was more described as, “The cold, uncaring atmosphere of the United States were for blacks discrimination, racism, and often brutal treatment were a feature of everyday life” (“Dream”). Not only did Hughes have to endure the pain of this treatment but so did all colored people.
Written in the first half of the 20th century, “Let America Be America” is a poem that documents and responds to the oppressed state of the United States, in both the past and present. The poem is a plea for a return to the original principles of freedom that our country has seemingly forgotten. Additionally, the speaker sees America as the broken home to oppressed people who have lost sight of the ultimate goal of freedom and happiness. Although America is often perceived as the “land of the free,” Langston Hughes’s poem contradicts this ideology by not only painting a vivid picture of oppression in America but also by providing a desperate hope for the future.
Langston Hughes recognizes in the poem that it is not right for the people who live and work in and love America to be enslaved by social injustice. During Hughes' time during the early 20th century, the country
In the fight for equality, people of color often feel isolated and separated from those whose privilege reinforces their oppression. However, there are and always have been white people who see the inequalities that are practiced in society and speak out against them in hopes of reaching equality for all. Langston Hughes used his voice in poetry to express his experience as a black man in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement, and his is a household name. There is no doubt that his words have power. The reader expects to feel his experience and gain empathy and understanding through his poetry. In his poem, “Let America Be America Again,” Hughes presents his experience of American life in a powerful contrast to the experience
The poem “Harlem” by the famous Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes, possesses many different types of figurative language, as well as an emotional reflective tone. In the poem, Hughes questions what becomes of a dream that is put away or delayed, and now wants to know what becomes of the dream is taken over by outside forces? He contemplates that these forgotten dreams could dry, fester, stink, crust, or explode. It is not a very lengthy poem, but it is truly an emotional one with a powerful question longing to be answered. In “Harlem”, Hughes illustrates how “dreams deferred” both punctures and frustrates the American spirit.
In the book The Future of the American Negro, Booker T. Washington related that the African-Americans “only a few centuries ago… went into slavery in this country pagans, that they came out Christians; they went into slavery as so much property, they came out American citizens; they went into slavery without a language, they came out speaking the proud Anglo-Saxon tongue” (24, 25). Washington’s focus was on assimilation, forging the black identity not as individuals with a proud heritage and strong sense of self, but as a productive class of laborers unified in economic contribution with a hope of garnering good favor within white America. However, Washington never saw the African-American community as second class citizens, noting that “The Negro is behind the white man because he has not had the same chance, and not from any inherent difference in his nature and desires” (27). There is a similar sentiment expressed in the Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too” that in due time the African-American will be recognized as equals, but the poem goes further in expressing the legitimacy of the African-American recognizing that they are not just black-Americans, but simply Americans.
Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes wrote the poem “Ballad of the Landlord” in 1940, a time of immense discrimination against people of African descent. The poem details an account of a tenant, later found out to be an African American, who is dissatisfied with his rental property. The tenant is politely asking the landlord to make the needed repairs on the realty, but instead the landlord demands to be paid. The tenant refuses to pay the rent, and the police are called after a threat is made towards the landlord. The police arrest the tenant; he is jailed for ninety days with no bail. Langston Hughes’s “Ballad of the Landlord” is a startling poem that underlines the discrimination African Americans had to cope with in the
Dreams are hopes that people hope to accomplish in their lifetime. When trying to achieve these goals, people are willing to do anything. But, what happens when a dream is deferred? A dream pushed aside can disappoint a person in the deepest way. It is likely to spread throughout their thoughts and becomes a burden. In the poem “Harlem,” Langston Hughes, through literary devices, introduce a strong theme through a short amount of language Hughes is asking what happens to a dream that is being put off.