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As I Grew Older

Langston Hughes

Summary of the poem

Langston Hughes As I Grew Older
begins about a dream that the
poet had long time ago. The poet
says his dream, bright as the sun,
was right in front of him until a
wall rose between him and his
dream. The poet is an old man now
and he is thinking about his dream
which he dreamt long time ago.

He remembers that his dream was not

fulfilled as a strong barrier was created
by his fellow white people who will not
let his dream come true. The wall seems
to grow forever and ever and it has
become it has become so tall that it
rose until it touched the sky. The
dream which was as bright as the sun
has now turned dark. The wall has
become a long dark shadow and has
been blocking his dream.
The dream being replaced by a shadow,
the poet has become black.

The poet lies down in the shadow which

means he feels defeated and helpless.
He finds that his dream is no longer
above him and so he feels despair.
Instead of his dreams, he finds the
thick wall and the shadow above him.
Dark hands refers to the poets own
hands, the color of his skin, who will be
able to break through the wall and
find his dream.
The poet wants to break the wall and
shatter the darkness that is keeping
him from attending his dream. He wants
to break the shadow into thousand
lights of sun and thousands of whirling

THEME: The poem is in negative effects
of racism, prejudice and discrimination.
It is a comment on any form of racial
oppression where one is unable to
achieve their dreams, whether it is
because of age, gender, nationality or
religion. The poem puts up a message
that we should believe in ourselves and
stand up against the unjust society and
rise above any sort of discrimination.
No matter what stands in the way of
someones dream, he can always find
his dream and fight for it.

The tone/mood of the poem, As I
Grew Older, keeps changing as the
poem progresses. In lines 1-6, the
tone in the speakers voice is
optimistic, nave and innocent.
In the next lines 7-16, the tone turns
into a depressing, angry one.
Lines 17-23, show a sign of pessimism
and anger in the speakers voice.
Finally in the lines 24-33, there is
hope and the whole stanza expresses
that he can still achieve his dream.

Changing Perspectives
The poems changing tone signifies
the speakers changing perspective
on life as he moves from childhood
to adulthood. Lines 1-6 show the
speakers viewpoint when he was a
child. Lines 7-16 reflect the change
in the speakers viewpoint. Lines
24-33 show the present perspective
of the speaker, that the time when
the poem was composed.

The wall has been used as a metaphor.
The wall is presented as an obstacle to
the poets dream. The obstacle is
racism and discrimination against the
blacks. The poet feels defeated but at
the same time he is not going to give
up his dream. His dark hands will help
him to shatter the metaphoric wall
which has been created by the whites
and will destroy hatred and racism.

Other Symbols
Light symbolizes dreams, hopes,
optimism, possibilities, goodness,
intellectual achievements and
On the other hand, darkness
symbolizes prejudice,
discrimination, hatred, racism, evil
and ignorance.

Other Symbols
The use of the words dark hands
symbolizes the color of the poets skin.
The poet is black and he himself makes
reference to his dark hands. The
speaker believes that he can break
through the barrier of being born with
a darker skin tone in a white society. I
am black and my dark hands are
examples of blunt truthfulness used by
the poet in his poem, As I Grew Older.

The poet has used five exclamatory
marks in As I Grew Older. Exclamations
determine emotions and energy in
expressing some idea. They are also
used as loud commands or gestures. The
use of exclamation in As I Grew Older
indicates the poets motivation to break
out of this oppression. The verses are
short yet punchy implying the speakers
repetitive outbursts of effort.