Langston Hughes: Poems study guide contains a biography of Langston Hughes, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of select poems. The speaker wonders what happens to a deferred dream. He wonders if it dries up like a raisin langston hughes and the harlem renaissance essay the sun, or if it oozes like a wound and then runs. It might smell like rotten meat or develop a sugary crust.
Hughes wrote “Harlem” in 1951, and it addresses one of his most common themes – the limitations of the American Dream for African Americans. The poem has eleven short lines in four stanzas, and all but one line are questions. African American family facing prejudice and economic hardship. The production debuted on Broadway in 1959, only 8 years after Hughes published “Harlem. In the early 1950s, America was still racially segregated. Change was bubbling up, however.
Thus, Hughes was intimately aware of the challenges he faced as a black man in America, and the tone of his work reflects his complicated experience: he can come across as sympathetic, enraged, hopeful, melancholy, or resigned. New York neighborhood that became the center of the Harlem Renaissance, a major creative explosion in music, literature, and art that occurred during the 1910s and 1920s. Many African American families saw Harlem as a sanctuary from the frequent discrimination they faced in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, Harlem’s glamour faded at the beginning of the 1930s when the Great Depression set in – leaving many of the African American families who had prospered in Harlem destitute once more.
The question is a powerful one, and there is a sense of silence after it. Hughes then uses vivid analogies to evoke the image of a postponed dream. He imagines it drying up, festering, stinking, crusting over, or, finally, exploding. All of these images, while not outright violent, have a slightly dark tone to them.