Perfection Is Only Found In Dreams

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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Everyone dreams. The speaker in the poem, "Let America be America Again" by Langston Hughes, dreams of America becoming the dream it used to be. The title is contradicted by the poem. In the poem, when faced with realty, the American Dream is often shot down. The speaker set up the standard of perfection, which is never attainable. Therefore, although he hopes for the dream, he has set it up for failure. The way that the speaker has set the poem up with his standards set so high gives a negative feeling throughout the reading.

"Let it be the dream it used to be."(2) In the eyes of the speaker, America was never a true reality, it is portrayed by then speaker that it has always only been a dream, and it will always stay like that, no matter what happens. This ties into the fact of him setting up the dream for failure in the first place, because to him it is only a dream but to many it has become a reality.

In some ways it is true when the speaker says that America was always a dream but I wouldn't exclusively say that it was nothing but a dream. A dream may be turned real if treated as though it can be done, and maybe taking a look at people that have found there dream, and turned it to reality, could be useful for fulfilling your own. "America was never America to me"(77), the speaker ignores all of the individuals whom the dream has become a reality. When a soldier goes to war for his country, America, he is willing to give up his life, that shows patriotism and love for America. These are the kind of people that pursue the American dream and sometimes fulfill it, the speaker gives absolutely no credit to these people. He emphasizes on greed a lot in the poem. Maybe these "Americans" that aren't greedy and didn't "Crush the weak" deserve a little credit for fulfilling the dream, the dream the speaker portrays as unrealistic and impossible. They live with the "Opportunity is rich, and life is free"(14) attitude that helped them to achieve the American Dream.

The American dream is supposedly open to everyone yet not all people have been given a fair chance to pursue the American dream. The speaker talks about the grievance to the people not of the white race. This has been an issue to America for many years. Segregation and inequality are the two main things that in the past have shot down the dreams of many Americans.

"I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek"(17) This idea is carried throughout the rest of the poem to try to convince the reader the speakers point about America and its flaws. The speaker try's to put himself and to reader in the lives of many less fortunate others to paint a false picture of the American dream and to stress the idea that all people of non-white races are not happy.

In the poem the speaker accentuates the fact of unhappiness of other races to let the reader see all the hardships they go through that is made up with absolutely no good. One of his points is, no matter what race you are, if you are not fortunate enough to be of the upper class your dreams WILL be shot down by the "greater person" with the "mighty crush the weak"(24) mentality. There are many situations in are history were the weak have risen above the mighty and have made American lives for themselves. One of the most prominent situations applies to Harriet Tubman who rose out of slavery and became a very respected and well-known American in our history.

America has gone through a lot in the short time of it's existence, and just surviving it all and being able to make it what it is today, is enough to call America, America. To say that it has to become the perfect dream many want it to be is way too much to ask. Perfection can't be reached in any way of life, no matter how equal and perfect things could seem.

Many people act on what they see or read, and I think that the speaker's goal was to get people to act on the problems we face mainly with inequality. I know the speaker probably realizes that true perfection can't be reached in any government, country, or belief, he has just set the goals high and used perfection simply as a tool to help prove his point. Basically he gave the reader a little taste of reality to see how they would react. When I look at it that way I can partially agree with the speaker but I think a lot of the things the speaker says aren't true and I have proved him wrong numerous times!