In the poem, "As I Grew Older", by Langston Hughes, where is symbolism in it, and what did he symbolize?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Langston Hughes uses two symbols in the poem, “As I Grew Older”, with his imagery of a sun that represents his dreams and a wall that keeps him from obtaining them.  The sun in the poem symbolizes Hughes’ dream for equality and acceptance in a racist society that keeps him from achieving success or opportunities. He had dreams once, but a wall was erected keeping him from finding them.  The wall symbolizes discrimination, prejudice, and racism in a society who doesn’t see him as a human being.  The wall keeps Hughes in the “shadows” of society unable to get up and out of his predicament of simply being black. 

The poem is a call for help to society to stop keeping those disenfranchised or discriminated against unable to achieve their dreams. Hughes wants to break down the wall of hatred and racism (symbolized by the night and shadow) and have the same possibilities as anyone in the United States.   Equal opportunity will grant thousands of dreams and bring hope (the sun) to those unable to accomplish their dreams.