Born: 1902, in Joplin, Missouri.
l Wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry.
l His writing was important in shaping Harlem
l Died: 1967 of prostate cancer.
Background of Dream
Langston Hughes wrote this poem in 1951
and refers to the delayed promise from the
Emancipation Proclamation (1863).
l The African Americans still did not have the
civil rights they were promised; this is the
l All the possibilities of the dream deferred
pertain to what the community might do if
it continues to not attain its dream .
How can a dream…
Explain the significance and connotation of
the following words and phrases:
fester like a sore
stink like rotten meat
crust and sugar over
sag like a heavy load
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
—Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
How does word choice help the reader
discover the author s meaning?
Explain what you think the author means by
dream ? (challenge: don t use I think )
What is the denotation of deferred ?
Explain what happens when dreams are
Word Choice to Tone
Tone is the attitude a writer has about the
subject he or she is writing.
So . . . .based on the word choice of Hughes,
explain his TONE in the poem.
Tone to Theme
If TONE helps develop the THEME, explain
Hughes theme of this poem:
* hint: theme is the overall message sent by the author
Theme to Our Own Lives
We ve had word choice to tone, tone to theme,
and now theme should be extended to our
Explain how Hughes theme still applies to the
world you live in today.
The Importance. . .
Theme s Importance to the Civil Rights Movement:
l Encouraged African-Americans to:
l Take advantage of new opportunities
l Break free of the racial struggles
Theme s Importance to Today:
l Encourages people to follow their dreams
l Take risks to follow one s dream. If people don t, they
may miss opportunities
1)Explain how the repetition of the questions
affects the tone of the poem.
2) Explain the significance of the word
“fester” and what effect it has on the