Harlem [Dream Deferred] Langston Hughes "What happens to a dream deferred?" , is the question asked at the beginning of the poem. The speaker uses powerful comparisons in his rhetorical questions that follow the opening line. These questions compare the dream deferred to simple yet very different things. They led me to ask, is the author really asking a question or making a statement to the audience? Hughes asked the first four questions in a manner that downplays the idea of a dream deferred. He does this by using vivid and different things to compare it to. The first question, in lines two and three, asked, "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" The next, "Or fester like a sore And then run?" .
These are very different comparisons; as are the next two. Hughes asked if it stunk like rotten meat, and finally, "or crust and sugar over - like a syrupy sweet?" these questions somewhat drew me away from the main question. The break in lines nine and ten, comparing it to the sag of a heavy load did so even more. Then the last line in italics, "Or does it explode?" , culminated the poem. It brought me back to the original question, "What happens to a dream deferred?" . It made sense of the first four rhetorical questions.
It also made me realize that Hughes was not asking a question but making a statement. The italicized "explode" made the most impression. He was not inquiring us for an answer but telling us one.