In "Harlem," why does Langston Hughes answer his main question with a list of questions; is he expressing political or societal values?
In examining the questions posed, one can see that there are significant political implications to what is being offered. The fundamental question that can be taken from the poem is what happens to people of color, specifically Black people, when they are the recipients of political and social discrimination and prejudice? What happens to these narratives? These questions are socio- political in nature and their answers are, as well. The idea of a raisin "drying up" reflects something exposed to constant heat and unbearable conditions, which is analogous to the overwhelming presence of institutional and social discrimination. The denial of hope and opportunity of such realities could very well cause the "sag like a heavy load" or the experience of "stink like rotten meat." Of course, the fear that all Americans, Black and White, need to have would be in the last question of explosion. It is important to understand that Hughes' questions are all examples of delving into a topic that Americans did not understand nor cared to comprehend. When social scientists struggle today to understand the realities of high unemployment, low education levels, the achievement gap, and the conditions of urban settings, they engage on an intellectual exploration of the questions that Hughes raises in his poem.