What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
The poem questions the position of oppressed people and the subject has remained topical ever since the 1930s when Hughes wrote the poem. The poem does not define what exactly the “dream” is: is it economic equality, respect, dignity or forty acres and a mule? Normally one would expect a grape to be left in the sun in order to produce a raisin. Here the raisin, an object already drained, is left in the sun.
It’s 2008, and now we are beginning to see the results of a raisin left in the sun. Our streets are plagued with violence at record breaking numbers. There is increased homelessness, child abuse, substance abuse–have we exploded!
Those fathers with deferred dreams gave up a very long time ago, and their sons, and their son’s sons have no father role models, because of far too many dreams deferred.
The welfare system of the late 60’s until 80’s took the responsibility from our men and gave it to the government. No longer did our men need to be responsible for our children. The best way to make a man a midget, is to have someone else provide for his family’s basic needs, and to ensure that he cannot.
So, I ask you, what happens to dreams deferred?