As i Grew Older by Langston Hughes

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The poem, “As I Grew Older,” by Langston Hughes, relates to the Harlem Renaissance. The renaissance was known as the African American artistic movement of the 1920’s that recognized black life and culture. Langston Hughes was apart of the renaissance and was known to be one of the greatest writers during this time period. Langston Hughes talks about his part in the renaissance through his writing and what it means to him specifically.

Langston Hughes had a long life before he participated in the Harlem Renaissance. He was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His parents split soon after he was born, which made his life difficult. He was then primarily raised by his grandmother who died when he was in his early teens. When she passed away, he went to live with his mother. They moved to several different cities before settling in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating in 1920, Hughes spent year in Mexico with is father. In 1921 he came back to the United States to attend Columbia University ( editors). During this time he became a part of a Harlem’s burgeoning cultural movement also known as the Harlem Renaissance. After a year in college, Hughes dropped out in 1922 to work at various jobs in New York. He became a steward on a ship and he traveled to Africa and Spain. He left this job in 1924 to go live in Paris and continue to write. While living in Paris he wrote, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Little did he know, this poem was going to skyrocket. It was published in The Crisis magazine and many loved his writing and what it had to say ( editors). Langston Hughes did not grow up with the most perfectly family, but with his knowledge and writing skills he was able to get by on his own.

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Langston Hughes was known to be one of the most important writers of the Renaissance. Hughes participated in this in the celebration of black life and culture. He believed that all black lives mattered and he stood up for any African American that was too afraid to stand up for themselves. His literary works helped to shape American literature politics. He had a strong sense of racial pride that was revealed in his writing. Through his novels, essays, poems, plays, and children’s books, he wanted equality and he talked about racism and injustice (Langston). Hughes believed that black people’s lives mattered and it would be showed in art, no matter their social class (Lettler). By talking about these situations, people were able to learn about them through the words in his writing.

The theme of this poem is that no matter what gets in someone’s way of a dream, you can always find that dream and fight for it. Throughout the poem “As I Grew Older,” Hughes talks about different symbols. One of the symbols that shows throughout is that there is a wall between blacks and whites in the world. The poem continues to talk about struggle that people went through during the Renaissance. Langston Hughes talks about how he had a dream, long ago that he forgot about but now he can see it. This is symbolism because the speaker is representing all African Americans that had to give up their dreams and rework them because of the social events that were taking place. He uses the symbol of a shadow to show the character;’s blackness, meaning there is a wall that is keeping him from reaching his dreams. Hughes faced discrimination in his life so he describes racism throughout the poem. Such as when he writes, “And then a wall rose, rose slowly, slowly, between me and my dream.” This quote is describing that there is a wall of discrimination and this wall is blocking me from getting to his dream. The wall is what keeps the people seperated.

The poem relates to society at the time because it talks about how many things got in the way of people’s dreams. The Renaissance put a stop on what people wanted to do. The wall was put up and that caused segregation. Discrimination poisoned the world and made everyone feel unsafe in their own home. People were treated unfairly because of their race, gender, age, disability, religion, ect. Those who were discriminated against suffered very many consequences such as stress, depression, and anxiety. It relates to society now because today there is not as much discrimination in the world. We are all treated equally and there is only a small portion of the world that is against equal rights. Throughout the years, the world has been turned upside down and people are starting to treat each other the way they should be. There is still some discrimination in this world but society has come a long way from where we use to be.

This poem gives an impression that situations in the world will get in the way of people’s dreams. Dreams are put on hold in order to get through the tough times. One needs to continue to push to get through this event to get their dream back. If someone keeps fighting for what they want, they will soon get what they have dreamed about if they work hard enough.

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As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes. (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved from