Figurative Language

By: Langston Hughes

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?

1. Define the term deferred. How does the definition relate to the title of the poem and the poem itself?

2. What do you think this poem is about? Explain your thinking.

3. What did you like or dislike about this poem? Explain your thinking.

4. How did this poem make you feel? Explain your thinking.

5. What is the overall tone of lines 8-10 in your opinion? (Remember tone is the feeling that writing produces, how does it make you feel?) What tone, do you suppose, Hughes was trying to convey? Explain your thinking.

6. After reading the poem, does the title make sense? Do you feel it was a clue for the audience? How would the poem have been different if the title was not there?

7. What type of figurative language does Hughes use in this poem? Give one example from the poem and describe what type of figurative language he uses.

Note: You may need to review lesson 4 to answer this question.

8. Now it’s your turn:

Conduct a search for more of Langston Hughes’ poetry. Find one poem that you enjoy and answer the following questions.

a. What did you like or dislike about the poem? Be specific. Your response should be at least 3-5 sentences in length.

b. List one of the literary elements you found in this poem and describe how it is an example of figurative language, conflict, irony, foreshadowing or tone. Please copy and paste the section of the poem you are using.

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