In Lorraine Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun,” the reader is pulled back in time to an era where segregation was still raging. Named after a line in Langston Hughes poem “A Dream Deferred,” the play focuses on the dreams of the Younger family. Each family member dreams of a better life, otherwise known as the American dream. Although each family member wanted a better life his or her idea of a better life were all different. The matriarch of the family, Mama dreamt of being a homeowner in a better neighborhood and providing for her family. Walter had a dream of owning a liquor store, which would bring in a lot of money. Beneatha on the other hand wanted to go to college to be a doctor. All of these are typical dreams, but the Youngers have the additional problem of being black in a time period that made their dreams harder to achieve. Lorrain Hansberry illustrates the many obstacles the Younger family has to jump in order to make their dreams “dreams deferred.”
Both Mama and Walter shared the desire to provide for their family, and saw money as a way to make them successful. When the family’s patriarch passes away the family is rewarded with a 10,000-dollar insurance check. Mama sees the check as a chance to get her family out of their cramped apartment into a house of their own. Conversely, Walter becomes fixated on opening his own Liquor store, which he saw as a way to receive a better income to provide for his family. In scene one, Walters son Travis asks his parents for fifty-cents and his mother Ruth tells him they don’t have it. Walter most likely feeling sorry gives his son money anyway saying, “in fact, here’s another fifty cents… Buy yourself some fruit today- or take a taxicab to school or something! (p. 450)” Lat...
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...that they’re also not ashamed of their skin tone. The Youngers were very proud of Walter, especially Mama who said “He finally come into manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain…(512)”
The family was able to leave their problems behind as they moved into their new house in Clybourne Park. They knew it would be a challenge to live somewhere that they were not accepted, but they were more concerned with the better opportunities the family would have. Hansberry successfully portrayed each of the main characters in a way that the reader could see themselves in at least one of them. Everyone has a dream, and face many obstacles on their path to fulfilling them. The story of the Youngers shows the reader to never give up on their path to fulfilling their dreams.
Hansberry, Lorrain. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Random House, 1959.
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