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Essay on The Strength of Family in Death of a Salesman and A Raisin in the Sun

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The American Dream is a vision of economic opportunity available to all those who work for it, regardless of race or class. However, as seen in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”, perverted conceptions of the American Dream convince certain characters that they are entitled to the fruits of miracles. Despite their best intentions for supporting their families, Walter Younger and Willy Loman encounter unsurpassable obstacles and are unable to fulfill their dreams. When all hope has been lost, family is the only thing that these characters have left. “Death of a Salesman” and “A Raisin in the Sun” portray family as asylums of safety amidst the hopeless ambitions of tragic heroes. Both Lena Younger and Linda Loman serve as arbiters of peace within their households; however, Lena’s matriarchal figure provides moral direction for the tragic hero while Linda’s optimism and mere encouragement is unsuccessful at binding the family together.
Lena Younger from “A Raisin in the Sun” preserves the fundamental values of family by virtue of a strong personality that guides Walter, the tragic hero, to redemption. The Youngers are a dysfunctional family of African Americans constantly plagued by financial need and questions of racial identity. Among the characters cooped up in the Younger’s small apartment are Lena’s two children, Walter and Beneatha, who compete against each other in order to fulfill their own ambitions. The fact that Walter and Beneatha even fight over the shared bathroom is symbolic in that conflicting dreams have torn the family apart. Lena constantly attempts to heal this deep-seated sibling rivalry, even in her darkest hour of discovering that Walter has breached her trust ...


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...mbitious dreams. Lena tries to bring sibling rivalries together and convinces Walter that family is ultimately more important than his reckless chasing of his American Dream. Linda is also mindful of the tensions pervading the household and tries to mend relationships between Willy and Biff while her optimism preserves Willy’s ambition to the very end. As a result, Lena actively guides the tragic hero to redemption while Linda merely mollifies and thus is unable to deal with the fundamental flaw that ultimately destroys Miller’s tragic hero. It is not the intoxicating Dream that brings home fruits of miracles, but instead the unwavering strength of family that endures and provides the true basis of fulfillment.

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage, 1994. Print.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. U.K.: Penguin, 2013.


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