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An Explication of Hughes Harlem

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Submitted By Funkydreads
Words 731
Pages 3
Anthony Wilson, Sr. English 151
15 February 2012
An Explication of Hughes' "Harlem" In the poem "Harlem" written by Langston Hughes, the speaker utilizes a series of rhetorical questions and similes intended to initiate a thought-provoking reaction that addresses unresolved or deferred dreams. The use of these questions and similes add to the overwhelming feeling of despair the speaker seems to have form the beginning until the end of the poem. In life, many have dreams intended to fulfill whatever end fantasy or goal is in mind. But, this poem attempts to address those dreams that are unfilled or put off for whatever reason. The speaker's inquisitive nature implies an uncertainty of promise or happiness of a dream deferred. The very first line of the poem begins with a question and sets the what becomes a "What happens to a dream deferred "? and immediately is followed by a series of rhetorical questions that mimics the negative outlook for the end result. "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun"? ( 3) "Or fester like a sore- And then run"? (4-5) "Does it stink like rotten meat"? (6) Or crust over and sugar over- like a syrupy sweet"? (7-8) "Or does it explode"? (11) So, from start to finish these questions imply the outlook is a grim one. The negative tone never seems to change not even for a split second from the beginning until the end. Even the use of certain word choice added to the continuous dismal tone of the poem. Usually when one hears words such as "deferred," dry," "fester," "stink," "rotten," "sags," "heavy" and "explode" one would associate negativity with its use. The reader is never led to believe there is hope for a dream that may have been interrupted. If a dream is deferred, then that means it is put off temporarily. However, the remainder of the poem with these symbolic words suggests the deferment may...

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