Analysis

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Analysis
Beth McGuire December 2012
What happens to a dream deferred? Many people wonder what happens to dreams postponed. In the poem “Dream Deferred,” the poet Langston Hughes uses similes to show what might happen when a dream defers. Hughes employs a curious mood to establish the theme that no one really knows what happens to dreams deferred.

Hughes creates a curious mood for this poem. He writes “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.” This means that a dream stays with you waiting. This image is meant to encourage the reader to ask themselves what they think happens to a dream deferred. Furthermore, the author uses similes to describe what happens to a deferred dream, “Or does it fester like a sore-and then run.” We know that a sore can’t really run, but this quote sets a questioning tone since or is generally used for a questioning feeling.

The theme of this poem is imagining something in your own way is the best way to show your individuality. The quote that made me think this was when the author wrote, “Or crust and sugar over-like a syrupy sweet?” This line means that a deferred dream could be all around you even when you don’t see it. The syrupy sweet that the author refers to is a simile for what happens when a dream defers. The action of crusting and sugaring over represents dreams all around you.

A literal reading of this poem would suggest this poem is merely describing a raisin, sore, rotten meat, a syrupy sweet and a heavy load. However, the opening stanza of the poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?” clearly indicates that the author is employing a simile and is comparing hope to all of these items. There are many similes throughout the poem. For example, “Like a raisin in the sun, fester like sore-and then run, like a syrupy sweet and like a heavy load.” The poem ends with the phrase, “Or does it explode?” In other words, the dream deferred may disappear forever and never be seen.

In this poem, Hughes establishes a curious mood to...
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