Essay on A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry

Published: 2021-08-15
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Harvey Mudd College
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The play A Raisin in the Sun emphasizes on the pursuit of the American Dream. Every character in the play has a dream that they believe is worthwhile and beneficial. The only obstacle between their current situation and their dreams is money. All the characters have a similar problem, the lack of money. This means they cannot achieve any part of their dream until they get access to money. Lorraine Hansberry paints the perfect picture of Langston Hughes poem A Dream Deferred through the characters. At the end of the story, the dream perceived as the most worthy is fulfilled while others are deferred.

Hansberry chooses the poem A Dream Deferred as an epigraph for a raising in the sun because the story narrates the various dreams possessed by each of the characters. Mama's dream is to create a good life for her family. In her mind, having a good life equals to owning a home, having a big yard, a car and a happy family (Hansberry et al. 41). When she gets the insurance for Walter and Beneatha's father, she ensures that dream comes true before she can give her children money and allow their dream to come to pass through that money.

Additionally, the story narrates the dreams of Walter and Beneatha that have to be deferred after Walter loses money to his friends and is incapable of achieving the dream of opening a liquor store. Beneatha also has to defer her dream of going to medical school. There is much uncertainty as the Youngers move to their dream house that Mama has bought with the insurance money. In as much as they dream of finally having a good life, the realities of the dominant white neighborhood they are moving into does not seem to be conducive for the kind of life they are looking forward to.

The play A Raisin in The Sun depicts a conflict of dreams, with each character believing that their dreams hold much weight over the others' dreams. Beneatha believes that her dream to go to medical school is much more important than Walter's dream of starting a successful liquor shop. Mama, on the other hand, believes that her dream to get the family a decent home is much more important than Walter's evil business. Walter, however, believes the business is a good investment that has the potential for success. Mama is extremely religious and is against the business of selling liquor terming it as sinful' (Hansberry et al. 35). The dreams of the members of the Younger's family are all contradictive with all of them thinking of theirs as the most prominent.

Of all the dreams the Younger's have, Mama's dreams appears to be the most prominent. The play seems to endorse Mama's dream because of its selflessness, family values and long-term effects on the Younger family. While all the other dreams are based on the possible gains of the individual members of the Younger family, Mamma's dream is one that covers all the other members of the Younger family. She dreams of a future for the entire family and is committed to seeing that dream come to pass. Mama's dream is a reflection of the original American dream that was characterized by selflessness and equal, free and richer opportunities for everyone. She dreams not only for herself but every member of her family.

Throughout the entire play, she consistently waters a feeble plant which doesn't seem to get any better. Watering this plant is a symbol of the dream that Mama has for her family but is unable to make come to pass. If possible Mama would have nursed her feeble flower plant back to life, but it keeps on getting feebler. Still, Mamma refuses to give up hope. She seems to believe that a dream deferred still has the possibility of coming to pass irrespective of the circumstances. Mama holds on to her dream of moving her entire family to a better, modern neighborhood where she could give them a better life than she had previously given them (Hansberry et al. 57).

Ultimately, out of all the dreams of the characters in the book, Mama's dream is the only one that achieves maturity and is fulfilled. Based on the fact that her dream is fulfilled, it is arguable that her dream was the most prominent of all the dreams of the other members of the Youngers family who focused mainly on themselves. The contrast between the older and the younger generation is made evident through the nature of their dreams. While mama dreams for her entire family, her children dream for themselves. Unconcerned about anyone but them, they focus only on building themselves rather than the people around them who cares. Mama, however, believes that to dream for her entire family is worth dreaming of herself as an individual.

Hughes question What happens to a dream deferred?' is answered at the end of the play. The answer to this question is Sometimes it comes to pass, and other times it remains just that-a dream deferred.' Mama's dream has been deferred until the insurance money arrives and she is able to fulfill it. Walter and Beneatha's dreams remain in their deferred state. Based on the play, it appears that the dreams that are selfless, are holistic in nature and which include the betterment of life for other people other than the dreamer are more likely to come to pass than selfish dreams that are focused on an individual's own accomplishments and getting ahead in life. Walter gets the opportunity to make his dream come true but is unable to because of his foolishness. Through his actions, it's clear that only the dreamer can bring a dream to come to pass. The dreamer has to be calculative in his moves and strategic in the ways in which he wishes to accomplish his dreams. Mama's strategy in making her dream comes to pass and her wit in using the money to first purchase a family home push her towards her dream. On the other hand, Walter loses the grip on his dream coming to pass by his lack of strategy despite having the resources of making his dreams come to pass.

In conclusion, the play A Raisin in the Sun reflects on the dreams that different people in the society have at different points in their lives. It also projects on the differences in the dreams that people have especially people that belong to different generations. The play also answers the question of what happens to a dream deferred? Based on the occurrences of the play, when a dream deferred is worthwhile and selfless, it becomes fulfilled. On the other hand, if it is selfish it remains in its deferred state until something else happens.

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine et al. A Raisin in The Sun. Paw Prints, 2008.


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