Growing up for the black man in America is a truly painful process. He is made to forget all his dreams. As he comes of age he discovers that he is destined to live in the shadow of the white man who tramples over him. ‘As I Grew Older’ is a typical Langston Hughes poem that presents this painful social reality.
The poet says that long time ago he had a dream. But now, he has almost forgotten it. It was bright like a sun. Then the wall rose silently between the poet and his dream. The wall rises and dims and in the end completely hides the light of his dream. It casts a dark shadow over him. Now he realizes that he is black. What remains for him is only the shadow. The poem ends in a tone of protest. The poet commands his dark hands to break through the wall and find his dream once again.
Here the wall is a symbol of racial discrimination. It symbolizes all the impediments and humiliations that confront the black man in America. The poem is a bold assertion that no human being should be discriminated against on the basis of the color of his skin.