A Raisin in the Sun Essay
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry tells the story of the Youngers, a family of lower class blacks who are trying to move up in the world. They are given an opportunity to do so when the grandfather’s inheritance is the sent in the mail. However, each family member has a separate agenda for the money they will receive. The play gets its title from the poem “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. In the poem, Hughes asks what happens to a dream deferred and one of the theories he proposes says, “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”. Each of the similes detailed in the poem correlate with a character from the play. Ruth is the wife of Walter Lee, the son of the man who died, and represents the simile which states, “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.” This description is most clearly displayed in her interactions with her husband Walter Lee, her sister-in-law Beneatha, and her mother-in-law Mama.
Ruth’s conversations with Walter Lee immediately reveal that Ruth is the more passive one in the marriage. She is rather stoic and states simply how she feels. An example of this is when she is in an argument with Walter Lee and she stops for a moment and says, “I guess I just didn’t realize how bad things was with us”. At another point in that scene, she also asks, “Honey, why can’t you stop fighting me?”. These quotes epitomize the fatigue that is central to Ruth’s character. Ruth has never had a dream because she is always supporting other people’s dreams. As a result, she feels that she is rather powerless and unimportant. One display of this helpless disposition comes when she discovers that she is pregnant with another child. She knows that it will be difficult to raise another child wi...
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...is with the others. The most direct support for Ruth’s similarity to the sagging simile in “A Dream Deferred” is in the first act of the play. She is working in the house with Mama and tells Mama that she is pregnant. Her conversation with Mama, her pregnancy, and the work she is doing collaborate to cause Ruth to faint. Fainting is the clearest representation of sagging possible and truly shows the effect Ruth’s dream, or lack thereof, has on her.
The different interactions Ruth has in the play show that she is weighed down by the burden of supporting a family. Actions like crying and fainting show the feeling of fatigue and melancholia that result from Ruth’s dream being deferred. These actions were clearly chosen by Hansberry to display this simile in Ruth’s character. Hansberry’s poignant storytelling and insights make A Raisin in the Sun a classic still today.
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