The American Nightmare: Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

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In Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”, she uses the African American Younger family as a representation of the entire race’s struggle for the American Dream. America has always had slogans such as “the land of the free” and “liberty and justice for all”. The Younger family is finding out, like generations before them, the American Dream isn’t at all what it seems if you’re black. The family eagerly awaits the insurance check from the death of their father, while living a life of constant struggle and hardships, in a Chicago neighborhood, on the Southside of town. Each member of the family has their own dream which they believe would better their life and also keep happiness in the family. Hansberry uses the dreams of the main characters as a means of demonstrating the challenges and minor victories that occur during their pursuit for the American Dream.

Hansberry got the title of “A Raisin in the Sun” from a line in Langston Hughes’s famous 1951 poem “Harlem: A Dream Deferred”. The title of the play references a conjecture in a poem about dreams that were forgotten or put off. Hansberry’s reference to this poem in her title spotlights the importance of dreams in this play. It also brings to light the struggle that each character faces to realize their individual dreams. In the play, the main characters struggle to deal with the oppressive circumstances that rule their lives. A struggle inextricably tied to the underlying black dream of equality in America.

“When Raisin first appeared in 1959, the Civil Rights Movement was in its earlier stages. And as a document reflecting the essence of those struggles, the play is unexcelled” (Baraka 10). Hansberry explores not only the tension between the black and white society and ...

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...wn, they merge their individual desires with the family’s overarching dream. They learn that the dream of a house is the most important dream because it brings the family together. The Youngers move out of the apartment, fulfilling the family’s long-held dream. Although their future is uncertain, they remain optimistic and determined to live a better life. Their belief is that they can succeed if they remain united as a family and resolve to defer their dreams no longer.

Works Cited
Baraka, Amiri. “A Critical Reevaluation: A Raisin in the Sun's Enduring Passion.”

A Raisin in the Sun: Unabridged 25th Anniversary Edition and The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Ed. Robert Nemiroff. New York: Penguin, 1987. 9-20.

Nemiroff, Robert, ed. A Raisin in the Sun: Unabridged 25th Anniversary Edition and The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. New York: Penguin, 1987.

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