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What Does The Poem As I Grew Older By Langston Hughes Mean?

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Babz Bell Profile
Babz Bell answered
The literal meaning of this poem is that because he is black, Langston Hughes is unable to achieve his dreams.

As a child, he was unaware of the cruelty of the world and in his innocent optimism dared to dream of achieving great things.

As time went by and he got older, he realised that because of prejudice, racism and discrimination, his opportunities were limited and he was thus blocked from being able to achieve his dreams.

He uses figurative language to describe this tragic, literal reality. A simile, the comparison of two things by using as or like, is used to describe his childhood dreams as being 'bright like a sun'.

Using a metaphor, the comparison of two things without the use of as or like, he then goes on to describe prejudice, racism, discrimination and all the other obstacles thrown into his path by the world as a 'wall'.

This 'wall', as he goes on, kept rising 'until it touched the sky'. To put it another way, the world, the wall, blocked out the vision of his dreams, the sun, thus making it more or less impossible to achieve them.

The resulting despair is described as, or compared to, shadow as he goes on to say that in his defeat, 'I lie down in the shadow'.

All of these figurative symbols, the sun, the wall, the light and the darkness, are carried throughout the poem to the end, when he despairingly orders his hands to push through the wall to enable him to achieve his dreams.

Only when he declares 'I am black' and exclaims 'My dark hands', does he use literal language. This blunt truthfulness makes it particularly startling.

The fact that the single reason for these obstacles is his black skin makes it even more hurtful.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
This poem talks about a dream being cut off, not believed in, for a while then believed in once again. It applies to all of us and what can happen. Sometimes we have to fight to back with a vengeance to make our dreams happen, if we don't forget it in the chaos of everyday life. There is no obstacle that one cannot overcome with hard work and self belief. This poem  should be a guide for anybody who feels like life's obstacles are too high to overcome. That is how people  feel when they've lost sight of their dreams,

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