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10 E As I Grew Older Analysis

10 E As I Grew Older Analysis



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Published by: Melinda on Jul 27, 2009
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Poem Analysis“As I Grew Older,” by Langston Hughes carries a theme that no matter what stands in the way of someone’sdream you can always find your dream and fight for it. Throughout the poem, Hughes refers to differentsymbols to show the barriers between blacks and whites in society.In the first stanza of this poem, Hughes writes that his dream was: “in front of me, bright like a sun—Mydream.” Hughes’s dream is the dream of a non racist society in America and the freedom for anyone to do whatthey choose and be treated equally. At the same time, Hughes’s dream can also be treated as Hughes’s future.Hughes’s dream first appeared to be “bright like the sun” because when you’re a child, you aren’t aware of what’s actually happening around you. Children don’t know the true reasons for why their community is theway that it is and Hughes’s didn’t understand either. Hughes’s dream was bright because he wasn’t old enoughto realize that there would be things in his way keeping him from his dream. Hughes’s dream describes how hewishes to have a good life and raise a family without the conflicts that he’s experienced in his own childhood.Also, it’s important to note that Hughes’s says “My dream” to show possession of the idea he holds. This is later related to other possessions Hughes’s describes in his poem. Another reason why Hughes’s writes “my dream”is because Hughes’s dream was different from a white man at the time. Facing discrimination throughout hislife, Hughes’s continues to describe racism when Hughes’s writes “And then a wall rose, rose slowly, slowly, between me and my dream.” The wall Hughes’s refers to is the wall of white men and how they dominated lifein the United States. This wall “slowly” blocked his dream. Hughes’s describes the blockage as slow to showthe many small efforts people used to keep America segregated.In the third stanza, Hughes’s writes that the wall “rose until it touched the sky--. The wall. Shadow. I am black. Ilie down in the shadow.” There are many things going on in this stanza that illustrates Hughes’s place in societyat that time and the extent of racism. The audience should notice that Hughes’s first writes that the wall rose upto touch the sky in a single line but he then breaks up the words in the following lines to act as if the action wastaking place with the words. First Hughes’s describes what is moving up and he writes on a single line, “TheWall.” Then Hughes’s continues to describe what happens when the wall is in place and that’s “Shadow.” In thethird single line Hughes’s confirms (if not already known), “I am black.” This simple description is thenfollowed by a single line with, “I lie down in the shadow.” “The Wall” that Hughes’s describes is a symbol of the white people who were racist against blacks. This wall cast a “shadow” over Hughes and this shadowrepresents the restrictions and laws that were made in discrimination against black people. Once the shadow iscreated, Hughes’s writes: “I am black,” which is literally the current state of his shadowed atmosphere but moreso the fact that Hughes’s is African American. Then he tells the reader that he’s lying down in the shadow. Thisshadow is describing the lower conditions that African American’s had to live with in the midst of segregatedAmerica. Hughes’s ends this stanza by saying “No longer the light of my dream before me, Above me.” Sincehis dream is no longer above him, the dream is beneath him. This can be interpreted as saying that the dream of freedom and equality is unrealistic or it’s saying that the dream has been temporarily disabled because of thewall created by white people.In order to break free of his restrictions, Hughes describes his “dark hands” that will be able to “break throughthe wall,” and “find his dream. The dark hands Hughes describes is his culture and his own people. Hughes believes that with perseverance that African Americans can break through the wall created by white people andfind their dreams. His dark hands can be seen as the color of the skin but also the fact that the blacks wereenslaved by many whites in the early history of America. These dark hands can be interpreted to be hands thathave bleed and worked and covered with dirt to show that hard work and constant repression of black societyhas made them strong.In the last stanza, Hughes says that these hands can: “help me shatter this darkness, to smash this night, to break this shadow into a thousand lights of the sun, into a thousand whirling dreams of sun!” “Shatter” adds more
emphasis to Hughes description of how African Americans will prevail through civil rights and by breaking theshadow into a thousand lights of the sun the blacks are breaking the restrictions cast by white people andmaking society equal as a whole. The darkness is the shadow that was created by the wall that grew taller andtaller. Hughes is able to break the darkness and let light in through the wall. He uses imagery to describe hisown ability to overcome prejudice in his society. The image of a wall not only represents Caucasians but alsothe fact that usually, barriers from one society to another are made up of walls. The wall stands as Hughesopponent and he’s able to defeat it him. Langston Hughes ends his poem by describing the dreams to becoming: “of sun!” to show that his dream may still be too far to reach but when reached will shine brighter thanall of the dreams ever to come true. The light from the sun is seen by Hughes again and it’s as if he and hisdreams were reunited.Art AnalysisThe picture is black and white not only to go with the theme of the anthology but also because in LangstonHughes’s “As I Grew Older” poem, it deals with the separation in black and white society. I chose to draw awall because it was the most significant picture I thought of when reading the poem. The wall in the picturegrows slowly taller and taller. The sunlight from the top corner of the picture becomes blocked. The differentheight of the walls shows the different obstacles that Hughes’s had to go through to get to his dream. Eventhough the walls are blocking most of the light from the sun, small rays of light are still coming through. This isto show that Langston Hughes’s was determined, even when there was discrimination to take his dream away,he never gave up. His prevailed through segregation and found his dream of equality.
As I Grew Older 
 By Langston Hughes
 It was a long time ago.I have almost forgotten my dream.But it was there then,In front of me,Bright like a sun--My dream.And then the wall rose,Rose slowly,Slowly,Between me and my dream.Rose until it touched the sky--The wall.Shadow.I am black.I lie down in the shadow. No longer the light of my dream before me,Above me.Only the thick wall.Only the shadow.My hands!My dark hands!Break through the wall!Find my dream!Help me to shatter this darkness,To smash this night,To break this shadowInto a thousand lights of sun,Into a thousand whirling dreamsOf sun!

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