Essay on The Dreary Downside of Dreams

Essay on The Dreary Downside of Dreams

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The elusive American Dream is something that people began pursuing before there was even an America. There is something in human nature driving us towards the unknown in order to provide a life for us that is free of strife and hardship. Throughout American history, one can find examples of success through adventure. However, often the stories of failures brought about by pursuing the American Dream are often left untold. While there are many differences between the time periods and characters, A Raisin in the Sun and The Pastures of Heaven demonstrate the perils of becoming too focused on the American Dream (or an aspect of it) and the great tragedy that could ensue as a result of the American Dream.
A Raisin in the Sun tells a story of the Youngers, an African American family in Chicago who is struggling to make ends meet. However, when Lena, the grandmother of the family, gets an insurance check for $10,000, hard times seem to be in the past. While Lena wants to put the money towards a house to move the family out of the cramped tenement housing, Walter, Lena’s son, wants to put the money towards a liquor store investment. Each of these characters is pursuing the American Dream. The dream of owning land has been something stemming from the feudal land system where owning land was a position of power. On the contrary, Walter was pursuing the American Dream of being able to be his own boss. However, when Walter tried too hard to force his dream of being a liquor store owner to come true, he ended up losing his dream and potentially ruining his family.
The lessons of the dangers of the American Dream permeate A Raisin in the Sun in multiple ways. The first is the warning of seeking happiness in the form of financial well-being...


... middle of paper ...


... possibility to fail and find an American Nightmare.



Works Cited

Brown, Lloyd W. "Lorraine Hansberry as Ironist: A Reappraisal of A Raisin in the Sun." Journal of Black Studies 4.3 (Mar. 1974): 237-247. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 192. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.
Kasser, Tim, and Richard M. Ryan. "A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65.2 (1993): 410-422. PsycARTICLES. EBSCO. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.
Steinbeck, John. The Pastures of Heaven. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Print
Winn, Harbour. "The Unity of Steinbeck's Pastures Community." Steinbeck Quarterly 22.3-4

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