Each title hints to a distinct interpretation of the poem's meaning. "Harlem" directs our attention to this dynamic metropolis that was a center of intellectual thinking and creative creativity. "Dream Deferred" focuses on a larger philosophical issue that affects all mankind. While some dream of success, others dream of happiness. But what if those dreams are never realized?
These two titles together help us understand that Harlem was a place where many black Americans lived out their dreams. However, due to racial divisions within American society, many there were unable to achieve complete success. Also, while some people dreamed of fame and fortune, others just wanted something simple like peace of mind. No matter what they dreamed of, most were disappointed when their dreams didn't come true.
Harlem was a neighborhood in New York City. At the time of the poem's publication in 1964, it was becoming increasingly popular with black Americans who wanted to live outside of the South. Many moved into small apartments there and worked at low-paying jobs.
The poem describes several incidents that take place there. First, we are told that "children play at being ball players". This implies that even though they may not have any money, these people had access to baseball equipment which only children could use.
The poems in the book are influenced by black musical styles like as jazz and blues, and the book as a whole addresses the Harlem community's experiences, culture, and racial consciousness. As the poems address the human cost of continuous injustice, the phrase "dream deferred" appears frequently. This reflects the fact that while many blacks hoped for improved living conditions after the end of slavery, these hopes were soon dashed: unemployment rates among blacks remained high, and white landlords refused to rent homes to them.
At its peak in the 1930s, it was home to more than 500,000 people. But most historical accounts say that by the late 1940s, less than 10 percent of the residents were black. Today, only 7 percent of Manhattanites identify themselves as black or biracial. Of those, about half are African American, and half are white.
Why do some historians claim that racism killed off Harlem's black community? One reason is the fact that whites didn't want to live near blacks. In an attempt to avoid this problem, landlords would give black tenants bad leases, so they could be moved into other buildings where the rents were higher. This practice is called "red-lining."
Another reason is the lack of employment opportunities for blacks in New York City. Although many blacks did work in certain industries such as shipping and domestic service, these jobs paid poorly.
Langston Hughes's poetry A Dream Deferred was published in 1951 as part of Montage of a Dream Deferred, a long poem cycle depicting Harlem life. The 11-line poem starts, "What happens to a dream postponed?" It is included in the collection because its speaker considers it a failure compared with other dreams within the cycle.
Hughes created two other poems in 1951: "The Ways of Whitey" and "Mother's Little Helper". He died the following year at the age of 48.
Walt Disney released the animated film Song of the South (1946) in November 2011, which was based on a story by Robert Lewis Taylor. It was the first all-black production from Disney and the first Disney feature film to be released in 3D. The film won four Oscars at the 53rd Academy Awards in 2012. It is also considered a classic of black cinema.
Taylor wrote several other films for Disney including Up North! (1940), The Three Caballeros (1963), and Lady and the Tramp (2015). He also wrote an episode of Black Panther called "To Hell With King Pin", which was directed by Angela Bassett and starred Laurence Fishburne and Forest Whitaker. The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2017.
The poem's title, Harlem, lends the work additional cultural significance. The title Dream Deferred implies that the poem isn't about a specific dream and that the meaning may be applied to any dream. Harlem exemplifies the difficulties of being an African American in the 1950s. It was once the capital of New York State and is now one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the city.
Harlem is used as a metaphor for black America in general and for the dreams of its people in particular. The speaker uses racial slurs against blacks who won't leave his job for a white man (line 2), murders blacks who get in his way (lines 3-4), and destroys their homes (lines 5-6) just to mention a few examples. Yet at the same time, he feels sorry for them because they don't know any better (line 7). The contradiction between these two ideas makes Harlem the perfect title for the poem.
Additionally, the title serves as a reminder to readers that although these problems exist for blacks across America, they are particularly acute in Harlem because it is a predominantly black neighborhood located in a city with a racist history.
Last, but not least, the title also hints at the fact that many blacks in those days didn't have access to good jobs or decent housing so they had to settle for what they could get.
Langston Hughes constructs a major metaphor surrounding a dream in the poem "Harlem" by linking a dream to many images of death and devastation in order to inquire what happens to a "dream postponed," or a desire that has been delayed in fulfillment. The speaker in the poem believes that if a dream does not come true immediately, it will never come true, and this belief causes him great pain because it prevents him from enjoying life now while he still can.
The dream that the speaker wishes to realize is an opportunity to dance on stage at a Harlem club. He knows that this dream will never come true, since it was first conceived when he was a child, so he decides to begin enjoying life instead, but soon realizes that this new way of living is just as painful as waiting for his dream to be fulfilled. Thus, the speaker comes to see that delaying desires only makes them seem more important and gives rise to other problems. Langston Hughes uses this poem to discuss the metaphorical connections between dreams and other desires that prevent people from living their lives fully today.
Hughes begins the poem by mentioning various images of death and destruction as examples of how delaying a dream can have serious consequences. For example, he says that dreaming of being shot by a sniper could be fatal because it implies that someone wants you dead even though you have done nothing wrong.