The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun

The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun

Length: 1195 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
A Raisin in the Sun is a play written by Lorraine Hansberry. The primary focus of the play is the American Dream. The American Dream is one’s conception of a better life. Each of the main characters in the play has their own idea of what they consider to be a better life. A Raisin in the Sun emphasizes the importance of dreams regardless of the various oppressive struggles of life.

Primarily, in A Raisin in the Sun Walter is an example of one struggling to achieve their dream or desire. Walter serves as the hero and villain of the play due to the actions he takes revolving his dream. “Walter, who firmly believes in the American Dream of economic independence, wants to own his own business, and a liquor store, because he despairs over what he perceives to be his inability to support the family and to provide for his son’s future” ( __ __ ). Walter’s dream is to be sole the provider for his household and give his family a better life. He plans by doing this through a liquor store investment with the insurance money given to Mama from Big Walters death. “In the play Walter loses much of the insurance money that he planned to invest on a liquor store to a con artist” ( ___ ___ ). Walter’s decision on investing in a liquor store turns out to be a horrific choice. In the play although Walter is regretfully deceived and looked down upon as a result of the liquor store ambition, he makes up for it by at the end finally reaching his manhood. During the time of the play the husband of the family is mainly the sole provider for the family. In the case of the play, Walters mother is the sole provider for the family. Walter strives to be the “man” of the house.“A job. (Looks at her) Mama, a job? I open and close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, “Yes, sir; no, sir; very good, sir; shall I take the Drive, sir?” Mama, that ain’t no kind of job. That ain’t nothing at all. (Very quietly) Mama, I don’t know if I can make you understand” ( Hansberry , Pg.73). “Walter minimizes the position of a car driver because to him it diminishes his manhood and his sense of individual worth.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun." 17 Nov 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun Essay

- The idea of the American Dream still has truth in today's time, even if it is wealth, love, or fame. The thing that never changes about the American Dream is that everyone deserves something in life and everyone, somehow, should strive to get it. Everyone in America wants to have some kind of financial success in his or her lives. The American dream is said to be that each man have the right to pursue happiness and strive for the beat. In the play "A Raisin in the Sun", the author shows an African-American family struggling to get out of the poverty line, which is stopping them from making financial stability, or the American Dream....   [tags: A Raisin in the Sun]

Free Essays
1733 words (5 pages)

Chasing the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry Essay

- Chasing the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun A Raisin in the Sun is a play about an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. This family is going through many struggles, both within the family and financially. The family is awaiting an insurance check. The story focuses on the individual dreams of each family member and what they want to do with the money. The family struggles to mend their family issues along with deciding what they will do with the money....   [tags: african-american, blacks, whites]

Research Papers
960 words (2.7 pages)

The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry Essay

- “Check coming today?” The Life Insurance check that Mama will soon be receiving is the source of all the dreams in the Younger family. A major argument that Lorraine Hansberry makes in her play A Raisin in the Sun is the importance of dreams. Dreams are what each member of the Younger family is driven by. Mama wants to have her own home in a nice part of town; she does not want her children growing up in a place with rats. Walter wants to have a successful business so he can surpass the poverty that has plagued his family....   [tags: A Raisin in the Sun]

Research Papers
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

- In my research paper I would talk about the themes of The American Dream, and choices and possibilities from the book A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry and I will talk about the author. Playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun and was the first black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. Lorraine Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. Throughout her life she was heavily involved in civil rights. She died at 34 of pancreatic cancer....   [tags: racism in chicago, class, ethnicity]

Research Papers
559 words (1.6 pages)

The American Dream in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun Essay

- The American Dream in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry is about living the "American Dream". Hansberry wrote her story in 1959. The "American Dream" that she describes and the one that currently exists are vastly different. In 1959, the dream was to work hard and live a comfortable life. American’s believed that you would live a good life as long as you had your family and had food on the table. Let’s fast forward to 2003. The "American Dream" is to have two cars, a glamorous house, a pool, a 40 hour a week job, and oodles of "stuff"....   [tags: A Raisin in the Sun]

Free Essays
970 words (2.8 pages)

The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry Essays

- Everyone has their own definition of an American Dream. Some people think the American Dream involves wealth and fame, while others refer to it as happiness and freedom. Lorriane Hansberry proves that the American Dream is obtainable for everyone. In, A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry explains the American Dream with distinctive characters, a well-rounded theme, and specific symbols. Hansberry uses unique characters to describe the American Dream. Every character has a different view on the American Dream....   [tags: happiness, freedom]

Research Papers
1054 words (3 pages)

Divergent Routes to the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun Essay

-     The American dream has been visualized and pursued by nearly everyone in this nation. Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is a play about the Younger family that strived for the American dream. The members of the Younger family shared a dream of a better tomorrow. In order to reach that dream, however, they each took different routes, which typified the routes taken by different black Americans. Walter Lee Younger's route, which was filled with riskiness and impulsiveness, exemplified the road taken by blacks who had been oppressed so much that they followed their dreams with blind desperation....   [tags: A Raisin in the Sun Essays]

Research Papers
2544 words (7.3 pages)

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun - Dignity and the American Dream

- Dignity and the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun     The American Dream, although different for each of us, is what we all aspire to achieve. In Lorraine Hansberry's, play, A Raisin in the Sun, each member of the Younger family desperately hopes for their own opportunity to achieve the American Dream. The American Dream to the Younger family is to own a home, but beyond that, to Walter Younger, it is to be accepted by white society.   In the book entitled " Advertising the American Dream", Roland Marchand refers to the American Dream as the belief that "if you work hard and play by the rules, then you will achieve your goals" (Marchand 1)....   [tags: A Raisin in the Sun]

Research Papers
1234 words (3.5 pages)

Racism and the American Dream in Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun Essay

- A Raisin in the Sun is written by a famous African- American play write, Lorraine Hansberry, in 1959. It was a first play written by a black woman and directed by a black man, Lloyd Richards, on Broadway in New York. The story of A Raisin in the Sun is based on Lorraine Hansberry’s own early life experiences, from which she and her whole family had to suffer, in Chicago. Hansberry’s father, Carol Hansberry, also fought a legal battle against a racial restrictive covenant that attempted to stop African- American families from moving in to white neighborhoods....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Critical Analysis]

Research Papers
1327 words (3.8 pages)

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

- 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....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
1508 words (4.3 pages)

In his own view, his work as a chauffeur places him in a boring and humiliating relationship of servitude to white Americans” (M’Baye Pg.5). Throughout the play Walter grows as a character from being a boy that complains about the way he is living and cares mainly about himself, to a man who realizes the importance of the dreams of his fellow family members and dignity of where he comes from.

Subsequently, in the play Mama is another example of struggling to achieve her Dream. As Howes explains, “the matriarch of the family, Lena Younger, is a commanding presence who seems to radiate moral strength and dignity”(206). “Mama’s American dream for peace is compromised by the rampant segregation that her family faces in being compelled not to buy a house from the Clybourne park white neighborhood” (M’Baye, 5). Harold Bloom suggests that Mama’s dream is to own a house with a garden and yard so that her family can become more whole and peace can be instilled. Although Lena/Mama faces a slight dilemma with Mr. Linder and numerous of conflicts with her family members, in the end her American Dream is accomplished. Another thing that Lena Younger/Mama dreamed of was raising her children the right way. Lena claims that they (Big Walter & Her) tried to instill a sense of pride and ambition in their children, and she is dismayed by the materialism and cynicism they express (Howes, 206). Howes also suggests that Lena does not understand how Beneatha doesn’t believe in God and how Walter thinks money is the most important thing in the world (206). In the play Lena tries to fix these faults in her children by force and communication. She slaps Beneatha and forces her to say “In my mothers house there is God, and she tries to change Walter’s way of thinking by having a conversation with him.

Beneatha is a third example of how a person with dreams is portrayed in the play. “Beneatha Younger is an intelligent, energetic college student who intends to become a doctor, if she can get the money for tuition” (Howes, 207). “All of the characters have their dreams challenged: Beneatha is courted by a wealthy black man who she feels has lost himself in the white culture” (Marie, and Brantley, 530). ____ suggests that because of the time period Beneatha is in, it is very difficult for her to achieve her dream due to her being a woman. Additionally, her fellow family members give her difficulties. (Bloom.207) Beneatha’s dream of being a doctor is very difficult to achieve. Woman during her time seldom became doctors because society didn’t accept that. Furthermore, Asagai confronts her many times about assimilating to an oppressive culture. Somewhat adolescent in her behavior and interests, Beneatha tends to lath onto fads, pursuing such expensive hobbies as horseback riding and guitar playing, which some critics called fan attempt to adopt middle-class white values (Howes, 207). Her dreams and ambitions are contrary to what is expected of a young woman in both cultural traditions. ( ___, Pg. 480) Beneatha also wants to be different from the woman of her generation. She expects to achieve her dream by Mama’s insurance money. Beneatha’s character explicates a determined woman with ambition on achieving her American dream.

Big Walter Lee is an example of how Hansberry portrays an African American struggling to achieve their version of the American dream. Big Walter Lee, wasn’t completely in the play however he was described through Mama’s voice. First Mama depicts Big Walter as a courageous man who fought all his life to secure a happy future for his family (M’Baye,1). She states: “That man worked hisself (himself) to death like he done. Like he was fighting his own war with this here world” (Hansberry, 45). Big Walter’s life was a constant struggle against a personal sorrow and a hostile economic and social world that discriminated against him. Like Lena Younger (Mama), Big Walter wanted to raise his children with the mindset o valuing family values and dreams over everything. Big Walter wanted to instill a sense of pride and ambition in their children (Howes, 206). ’Baye talks about how Big Walter and Mama raised their children Beneatha and Walter, to value their religious beliefs (5). This is proven in the play when Beneatha gets slapped for denying the existence of god. Mama lectures about how they (Big Walter and her) raised their children better. Furthermore, this is also proven in the play when Mama orders Walter to tell Ruth not to have an abortion. When Walter doesn’t say anything to Ruth Mama lectures about how her and Big Walter raised their children better.

Works Cited

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.
Return to