Dream Deferred

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Analysis of a Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

This poem by Langston Hughes is a very complicated. In it the speaker paints a picture of what might happen to someone’s dream if it is postponed too long. This idea is the overall theme of the poem and it is what unifies and connects each line to the poem as a whole. There are also indirect references that this is not only the dream of an individual, but an entire race’s struggle to achieve peace and liberation. This poem consists of a series of answers to the question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” All of the lines following this first question are presented as different similes.

The first line of this poem is the most crucial because it develops and sets the direction for the poem itself. It makes the reader think about what happens to a dream when you put it aside for an uncertain amount of time. It is not referring to the dreams someone might have when they are asleep, but rather the goals they have set out for themselves and wish to accomplish. The poem does not choose or assign a dream to the individual or group, but leaves it up to the reader to decide what they feel is important to them. There are two levels of interpretation that can be seen at this point in time. There is the dream of the individual person and what they wish to achieve themselves. There is also the dream of an entire race and what they hope to achieve as a group. The word “deferred” was a wonderful way to articulate the idea of a postponed and possibly overdue dream. This line is followed by a series of rhetorical questions that indirectly answer themselves.

The speaker firmly states the idea that delaying any dream could lead to damaging effects. Each line describes what these destructive effects and to what end it could lead. The second line asks if the dream dries up “Like a raisin in the sun.” This metaphor of a dream as a raisin forces the reader to think about the changes that might occur to a dream if...
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