From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Harlem (Dream Deferred)

Harlem (Dream Deferred)

  

by Langston Hughes

Harlem (Dream Deferred) Theme of Choices

Our speaker of "Harlem" presents us with several juicy philosophical questions about dreams. For example, are dreams meant to be thought about or acted upon? Is it a bad thing never to pursue a dream? What happens when someone else prevents you from pursuing your dreams? Our speaker suggests that sometimes we don't have any choice but to defer our dreams, which is quite a tragedy.

Questions About Choices

  1. Is our speaker thinking about people who defer their own dreams or people who delay the dreams of others?
  2. Is it more of a choice to act on dreams or to defer dreams?
  3. Of the four similes in this poem, which ones involve choice and free will?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Explosion happens accidentally. The final line of "Harlem" makes us think that dreaming is a natural thing that happens out of necessity rather than choice.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement