A Comparison of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman and A Raisin in the Sun

A Comparison of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman and A Raisin in the Sun

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The Value of a Dream in Death of a Salesman and A Raisin in the Sun

 
   How does one value a dream? This question arises while reading both Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.  Although the two novels are very different, the stories and characters share many likenesses.  Death of a Salesman concerns a family’s difficulty in dealing with unrealized dreams.  A Raisin in the Sun focuses on a family's struggle to agree on a common dream.  In each of these stories, there are conflicts between the dreams that each character is struggling to attain.

 

            In Death of a Salesman, Happy and Biff are uncertain of where they are in life, and only reach out for the simple, already-tangible things at hand. Biff: "I don't know- what I'm supposed to want", and Happy:  "I don't know what the hell I'm working for", means that they bothh feel they havn't progressed.  All they want to do is work with their hands, with their shirts off and their backs to the sun.  Neither Biff nor Happy have struggled to get to where they feel secure, otherwise they would not be admitting such things.  And both have also dismissed the truth; Biff saying "Never mind. Just don't llay it all to me" and Happy saying, "Just don't lay it all at me feet."  Happy also wants to believe that everything is alright; Happy is fine, so long as he can make himself believe that everyone around him is fine.  Towards the end of the story, when Biff accuses everyone of lying, Happy exclaims, "We always told the truth!" but in the beginning, he admitted to Biff, "See, Biff, everybody around me is so false that I'm constantly lowering my ideals."

 

            Willy Loman wants his dreams so badly that, in his ...


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...o survive.  The Youngers never left the house; the house was the only place of action.  It was the pillar, even though it wasn't a great one.  They made it the pillar by their pride and faith.  Willy Loman died with somewhat of a sense of honor and dignity.  He knew he would make his family finally and truly proud, and, most importantly, he knew that Biff loved him, and he always had.  There is no such thing as a wasted life, so long as there are dreams to cloud up reality and, possibly, make them possible. 

 

Works Consulted:

Bloom, Harold. Twientieth-Century American Literature. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Draper, James P. Black Literature Criticisms. Detroit: Gale Research Incorporated, 1992.

Hansberry, Lorraine.  A Raisin in the Sun.  New York:  Signet, 1988.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman.  New York: Viking, 1995.

 

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