In “Dream Boogie” Hughes writes about the frustrated African-American dream of self-creation and self-expression. The dream is “deferred” (line 4) — that is, it is not allowed to materialize. Also evident is the sense of psychological homelessness — the African-American individual, unable to find a cultural and psychological reference appears to wander aimlessly in an unforgiving society that shuns him or her out. The dream, though thwarted, is not entirely gone.
It continues to “rumble” (3) at least in the inner recesses of the African- American consciousness. It screams for space and definition, pushing to be liberated and manifested to the larger society of blacks and whites alike. The suppressed yet undying dream is akin to anger and discontent. The individual’s placid facade conceals raw disquiet underneath. Hughes writes: “Listen closely:/ You’ll hear their feet/ beating and beating out…” (5-9). The rest of the statement is also thwarted.
The persona is cut short by “Daddy,” (1) a symbolism that cuts both ways. He could be an emblem of the white patron (remember that Hughes, along with other writers of the Harlem Renaissance, relied on the financial support of white patrons to pursue their art) whose support for African-American artistic expression is nearly always coupled with ideological regulation. On the one hand, “Daddy” could be a black figure himself, the happy darky. Either case, the presence of “Daddy” is a regulating agent. He compels the persona to conform to prevailing ideology.
He becomes a medium of escape from the people’s social plight into the artificial yet comfortable world of indifference and forgetting. When he asks the persona “What did (you) say? ” (14) there is an attempt by him to de-familiarize the all too obvious truth and distance himself from it. Consequently, the persona’s words “Sure,/ I’m happy! ” (15-16) bear a touch of irony and unwilling submission in them. Works Cited Hughes, Langston. “Dream Boogie. ” 2005. Big Apple History. <http://pbskids. org/bigapplehistory/arts/index-flash. html>. 13 Nov. 2007.
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