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Literary Device: Simile. Like a metaphor, a simile is a form of figurative language that makes a comparison between two different things. Unlike a metaphor, similes DO use the connective words “like” or “as” to make this comparison.

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literary device simile

Literary Device: Simile

Like a metaphor, a simile is a form of figurative language that makes a comparison between two different things. Unlike a metaphor, similes DO use the connective words “like” or “as” to make this comparison.

Example: The sky flowed like a large, blue blanket spread out over the earth.

harlem langston hughes
“Harlem” 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?

harlem author s purpose
“Harlem” – Author’s Purpose
  • What is the author’s overall poetic purpose or message? (Hint: What is the meaning of the word deferred?) ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The word “deferred” means to delay or postpone. Hughes is exploring, through his poetics, the various possible fates of forgotten or delayed dreams.

harlem author s purpose4
“Harlem” – Author’s Purpose

A raisin - in the sun, dried (sight, taste, touch)

A sweet – syrupy, crusted, sugary (taste, touch, sight)

  • Through the use of similes (and one metaphor), list the various objects that the poet compares to delayed dreams. Beside each object, list any details provided about the object and the senses to which these objects and details appeal.

A sore – running (touch, sight, smell)

A load – heavy, sagging (touch, sight)

A bomb – exploding (touch, sight)

Meat – rotten, stinking (sight, smell, taste)

Which of these is an example of a metaphor?

harlem author s purpose5
“Harlem” – Author’s Purpose
  • What kind of connotation or tone do all of these objects convey?____________________________________________________________________________
  • How do the various similes and metaphor directly help to communicate the poet’s main message? How do they impact the reader’s experience?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The tone of the various objects is extremely negative.All seem to suggest a sense of ruination or destruction.

By attacking the reader’s senses with multiple items to connect to an abstract concept, the poet is able to create myriad concrete impressions concerning faded dreams.

answer the essay question below
Answer the essay question below:
  • In Langston Hughes’ “Harlem”, the poet contemplates the fate of forgotten dreams. Write a well-organized response, complete with relevant text evidence and insightful commentary, explaining how the author uses figurative language to achieve this artistic purpose.

Red – Major Writing Task

Blue – Minor Insights/Instructions