What is the tone for the poem As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes?

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "As I Grow Older," the poet Langston Hughes describes a dream that was "bright like a sun."  He could could not reach his dream, because

then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky.

The wall seems to be a metaphor for segregation and prejudice against black people, as the poet says:

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.

The poet does not despair, however.  He feels that his own hands, his "dark hands," can break through the wall and bring him to his dream:

My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun

The tone of the poem can be divided into two sections.  The tone of the first half of the poem is one of frustration at not being able to reach one's dream.  The tone of the poem's second half is hopeful.  The poet believes that he himself can break through the wall and realize his dream.