As I Grew Older Essay

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As I Grew Older Langston Hughes was a famous African-American poet who lived during a time of worldwide racial oppression against black people. Growing up was a painful process in which childhood dreams of 'a place in the sun' were shattered. Hughes wrote protest poetry and was one of the first poets to promote African-American culture such as jazz music. Langston Hughes was deeply concerned with racial pride and with the creation of African-American poetry as an independent genre. Throughout the poem, like in jazz, though the speaker is very emotionally involved, he nevertheless remains cool, relaxed and in control. The literal meaning of the poem is that because the speaker is black, racism, prejudice, limited opportunities and discrimination hold him back from achieving the dream that he had when he was young, optimistic and naïve and didn't know how prejudiced the world was. He felt free as a child to dream about achieving great things but as he grew older, his dreams were ruined by the world and its cruelties. The poem is rich with images, metaphors and symbolism comparing racism, prejudice, discrimination and all the obstacles the world throws in his path (the thick wall), blocking his dream (the sun) and making it impossible to achieve. The only literal language in the poem is I am black and dark hands, quite blunt since this is the only reason for the oppression he is suffering. It is ironic that these are the hands which represent the power that can help him reach his dream. The speaker believes he can break the barrier of being born with black skin in a society dominated by white people. The poem ends with great hope and strength. The message is that people must believe in themselves, stand up for themselves and never give up. Even if the odds are against you, you must pull yourself together and try to reach for your dream. The tone of the first

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