In the Langston Hughes poem, "Harlem," how does the figure of speech "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun" enhance the meaning of the poem?How does figure of speech enhance or add to the...

In the Langston Hughes poem, "Harlem," how does the figure of speech "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun" enhance the meaning of the poem?

How does figure of speech enhance or add to the meaning of the poem?

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the poem "Harlem," by Langston Hughes, the narrator begins the poem by pondering what happens to a dream that is denied.
What happens to a dream deferred?
 
Then, through a series of questions, the narrator tells us exactly what he (or she) thinks happens.
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?
 
Now the question was, "How does figure of speech 'Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun' enhance or add to the meaning of the poem?
 
This figure of speech begins the poem with ambiguity. Raisins do not actually dry up in the suns. Grapes do, and when they dry up in the sun, they become something altogether different, but in a good way. However, a raisin, itself, that dries up further would not be as appealing, and the image is unattractive one. So, this one line sets the tone for the unpleasant mental image comparisons through the rest of the poem.
eNotes has some great information on Hughes and his work.
Sources:

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