Success in America: A Raisin in the Sun Essay

Success in America: A Raisin in the Sun Essay

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In America, every citizen is guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although each person is given these rights, it is how each person uses them that defines how successful they will be in America. There are several obstacles that some Americans face on their pursuit of happiness. In this country’s past, Americans lived by a very specific set of beliefs that valued the importance of hard work, faith, and family. As time progressed and America began to evolve as a nation, this capitalistic society no longer devoted itself to family and faith but rather success, and the pursuit of prosperity. The shift from dependence on tradition towards a society that values success and how people struggle to b successful when society makes it difficult marks a common theme in Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Two of the main characters in this story Lena Younger (Mama) and her son Walter Lee directly reflect the shift from tradition to a focus on success and capital and the struggles they face in regards to racism. Mama and Walter Lee’s contrasting values about the American dream and the way in which they pursue their own dreams while facing racism exemplifies the shift from valuing tradition like in previous generations in America, to valuing success and prosperity like in more current generations.
The setting in which Lorraine Hansberry was raised was a crucial to the development of several of her plays, particularly A Raisin in the Sun. On May 19, 1930, Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois to Carl and Nannie Hansberry. Both of her parents were known for their work in regards to civil rights and social equality. Also, her great grandfather William Hansberry, a slave that could read and write that was freed when...


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... were changing, but being African American could prevent a person from reaching their goals and achieving success and in doing so, completely forget the importance of family and tradition. Through this play, Hansberry affirms that America’s values are constantly changing and evolving. The American Dream is constantly morphed, and people will take different actions according to their beliefs, but factors such as racism can prevent a person from becoming successful and achieving their dreams.



Works Cited

Galens, David, and Lynn M. Spampinato, eds. Drama for Students. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Print.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Conway Printing, 1958. Print.
McKissack, Patricia, and Fredrick McKissack. Young, Black, and Determined. New York: Holiday, 1998. Print.
Otfinoski, Steven. Great Black Writers. New York: Facts on File, 1994. Print.

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