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dreams deffered

dreams deffered - Murphy 1 Jenna Murphy Fournier Literature...

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Murphy 1 Jenna Murphy Fournier Literature Study Monday, February 25, 2008 Consumed by Dreams African Americans in the early- to mid-1900s had dreams. In his poem, “Dreams Deferred (Harlem)”, Langston Hughes expresses the disillusionment African Americans felt when their dreams were unrealized. Hughes refers to a time in history when African Americans had little hope for success and equality. Although “Harlem” illustrates the commonness of the Blacks’ struggle, language cannot fully express the accompanying frustration. Instead, the poem can only convey an inevitable loss of hope. By using imagery to appeal to all five senses, the speaker in “Harlem” illustrates how the dream has consumed one’s entire being. A person cannot look, listen, touch, taste, or even smell without being reminded of this dream. For example, the first image the speaker mentions is the drying up of a “raisin in the sun” (l. 3). We understand the effect of a parching sun on a juicy, plump grape. Visually, we see the shriveling up of the grape, no longer a possible source for a rich wine. Yet although this process that turns a grape into a raisin connotes a negative feeling, we can still consider a raisin as a useful product. After all, raisins are still edible, and many people enjoy the taste of them. The next image, however, leaves no doubt as to the negative effect it has on our senses. To think of a dream deferred “fester[ing] like a sore—/ And then run[ning]” (l. 3-4) creates a instinctive reaction. We cringe as we visually imagine the infected wound, excreting disgusting yellow-green pus. Not only do we have a physical reaction at the sight of such a sore, we also remember the times when we personally have had such a sore and
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Murphy 2 the pain and irritation that have accompanied it. Indeed, the images provided in “Dreams
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