The poem “Harlem” Hughes reveals the shuttered dreams of the American Dream, attributed to by many people. The Author has used different types of imagery, the technique of rhetoric questions and even similes to invoke people’s emotions. He wants people to feel and gauge themselves on the progress they have made to achieve the dream. The American Dream, used widely and mentioned many times and by different people, and it is what Hughes comes in to explore the failures of the dream.
The “Harlem” poem was written during the time when discrimination was rampant in United States. The basis for this discrimination was peoples color, education and social class. Therefore, it lets people think broadly about the American Dream and stop viewing it in a materialistic perspective. The poem reveals social injustices as an immense component that affected the “American Dream.”
The first imagery encountered in the poem is the line where the poet compares the dream to a raisin which has dried up in the sun. The Poet asks whether the dream is a raisin that is drying up in the sun. Considering the uses of raisin for moisture, the comparison to withered raisin depict how a postponed dream change with no expectation of the benefits intended. This imagery brings the unworthiness of the dream that the dream being of benefit to people is now useless. The dream that the American people should rely to succeed is overlooked not to realize the great resources in it. This hurts the poet so much to say that failing to follow your dream is “fester like a sore.” Further Hughes compares the dream to the rotten meat. Nutritious food like meat has now become poisonous food that can harm people. Considering the conditions that make meat rot, it has far reaching emotions of how a valuable thing can turn to be a havoc or cause diseases (Hughes, 1).
In addition, Hughes rhymes meat with sweet and mentions the crust and sugar over. Crust refers to a covering compared to mean a covering protecting the dream. The meaning here comes to mean the dream will get bigger and sometimes smaller but will near be static at all. He compares the dream to a heavy load that sags and asks, “...or does it explode?” Maybe the dream mentions higher targets that were unachievable making them to be dropped down just like how a heavy load sags. This forms questions make people ask questions, “If it were not dropped because it was a fantasy than reality, did its time pass to be regarded as exploded?” An explosion brings more harm and sometimes is taken to mean all the efforts put forth did not meet the requirements of the dream.
According to the article by Stuart et.al, (2141-2177), the history of racial discrimination in school education in the United States is mentioned with examples. In a research conducted, results shown that, schooling is differentiated into various sections with Afro-Americans experiencing first-hand discrimination, in terms of finances and academic materials and academic investments. Children from the Back Americans are considered to be inferior beings. They are taken to be beings that don’t deserve any quality service or to intermingle with children from the white families. Contrary, unlike the children from the black background, who have amateur teachers as and limited academic resources; those from the white backgrounds have access to quality education and unlimited resources. It is; therefore, fair to stipulate that this occurrence infringed the rights of the black Americans as well other races. These people could not lead average lifestyle since quality education was considered to be a facet which distinguished the average from the poor class.
The citizens of United States are continuing to face discrimination in terms of healthcare and health insurance Kessler, Mickleson and Williams (pp.208-230). A survey conducted amongst the nationals indicated that, the people suffered from both lifetime as well as day-to-day forms of discrimination. The article further relates the perceived forms of discrimination and the mental health of the victims. The prevalence of discrimination is experienced especially amongst the lower-class citizens, such as the blacks and Filipinos. These facts are signs of falling American Dream.
De Castro, Gee and Takeuchi (520), referring to the conducted research indicated that forms of discrimination in the workplace affected the minority of Filipinos. Discrimination prevented them from attaining their American Dream of living healthy as they were exposed to poor, working conditions, low income and allowed to attain lower levels of academic qualification. Health deteriorating among these people was caused by the daily forms of discrimination.
According to Myers, Samuel and Bruce (39), from the economic perspective, the employment discrimination between the black Americans and the white creates a major concern of achieving the American Dream. The high black unemployment and hostile working conditions for the blacks point the dying American Dream. Still on matters of unemployment, in terms of wage discrimination, the black get the lower remunerations for equivalent work. The objective of the dream was that, United States shall define itself far from sex, gender, blood, religion or ethnicity.
In the market investments, the human capital discrimination is one among many factors that prompt Hughes to speak of the Falling American Dream. This is because; the black people get limited access to the capital market and monopoly powers preventing them from investing in the capital market. Funny enough, the price of commodities also outline inequalities which makes the black buyers to pay higher prices and black sellers get lower prices.
The housing crisis in the United States is a pointer that the dream of America is fallen. According to Ryscavage, Paul (217), a greater percentage of people lose their home each year through foreclosures. In statistics done in 2009, 2.8 million homes were foreclosed which makes others people expect the same fate each year. The reasons that people go for foreclosure are a reduction in income or health problems. While some blame the people losing their job for the foreclosure, other parts such as California have dealt with the financial crisis by asking employees go for months without real paycheck. This foreclosure can be viewed as an inequality in some states of the nation.
At the end of 1990s, on inequality in crime and prison boom, the less-educated black youths were termed to commit a great deal of crime owing their poor educational status. Indeed, Criminologists reported the increased rates of serious violence among the young black men with an indication that the violence is highly concentrated among the poorest. Much more, the emergence of mass imprisonment coincided with the twenty-year rise in the economy inequalities. The driving factor behind these crimes is the unemployment and stagnant wages that drove these men to commit crimes. Even though, prison boom is not related to the mounting crime rates, crime becomes more serious, among the poor class than the middle class. This inequality has far reached emotions to many citizens as they strive to achieve the American Dream, where the one regardless of gender, birth or religion shall achieve success through hardworking (Western, Bruce, 37).
To rejuvenate the American Dream, leaders of the nation should come up and advice people that, in achieving the American Dream, there is a need to balance knowledge and wisdom. Hughes poem was not a dream to show that the dream can never be attained, but with trust, transparency and opening up heart in kind will make progress in attain the dream. The interpretation of the American Dream, however, goes beyond the custom beliefs of materiality to recognition that the dream is neither a reassuring variety nor a mere bromide but an idea bound by complex manifestations that can cut across in different ways. Beyond the recognition of these considerations, the dream includes the acknowledgement that there are many dreams lying on their specialty and category that should be attained in order to revive the American Dream.