America is defined by reaching the top no matter who you are or where you come from. In the 50’s The American Dream revolved around materialistic values. Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, focuses on a family with each member having a different dream and their journey as an African American. Walter, Mama’s son learns the meaning of pride and keeping what his father has earned is more important than money. The play focuses on supporting each other through rough times, learning to love and to achieve their perception of the American dream despite the color of their skin.
The title of the play is based on Harlem by Langston Hughes, a poem that raises a question about a dream that is deferred. Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun Or does it explode?(Hughes) 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 harsh struggles in life. The Younger’s family received a $10,000 dollar check for their dead father’s life insurance policy. The Younger family lives in a two bedroom apartment on the south side of Chicago. Where racial prejudices against blacks with a low income becomes the root of conflict in the family. Mama, a widow of deceased Mr. Younger wishes to buy a house and fulfill the dream she once saw with her husband. Beneatha, Mama’s daughter, hopes to find her identity through looking towards true African heritage and wants to become a doctor. Walter, Mama’s son, wishes to one day become rich though opening a liquor store. Also, He wants to restore his marriage and provide his son with all the opportunities he never had growing up.Mama has dreams of providing her family with a better life she and her husband ever had. Mama said, Lord if this little plant don’t get more sun than it’s been getting it ain’t never going to see spring again. (Hansberry,720 ) The plant symbolizes Mama’s dedication to her dreams. Every morning she tends to her plant and explains that even though it doesn’t get the amount of sunlight that is needed to keep the plant alive. The plant is growing growing in harsh conditions. It also, symbolizes that even though her dreams have been deferred throughout her life she still keeps them alive and strives to achieve them. The plant is growing growing in harsh conditions. Mama decided to put a down payment on a house in a white neighborhood. Buying the house shows Mama belief in achieving the ideal American Dream. After becoming the head of the household Mama wants her children to respect themselves and to succeed while maintaining the moral boundaries of remembering where they came from. Ruth. Walter’s wife, has similar dreams as Mama does. So you went and did it! PRAISE GOD!(Hansberry, 748) Ruth said to Mama about buying the house.Ruth was very happy when she found out Mama bought the house. Ruth believes ownership can bring joy and happiness to her family,which shows her idea of a better life Beneatha’s dreams is to become a doctor and to stand up against ignorance in racism. Beneatha’s dreams were deferred due to the fact the she grew in a society where people expected women to take care of the household than actual have a career. But the main issue holding back Beneatha is not having the money to go off to school. Walter said to Beneatha Ain’t many girls decide to be a doctor. (Hansberry,751 ) Beneatha replied Forgive me for wanting to be anything at all. (Hansberry, 751) Walter is close minded and agrees on how society views women. Walter has a whole different perception on what the American dream is. Walter is an example of a struggling African American wanting to achieve their dream or desire. Walter serves as the hero and the villain of the play due to the actions he takes revolving his American Dream. Walter firmly believes that the American Dream is to become rich. Walter wants to own a business, a liquor store because he despairs over what he perceives to be his inability to support and to provide for the family. Walter’s wants to become the provider for his household and be the one to give his family a better life. He plans to help his family by investing in a liquor store with the insurance money. In the play Walter loses most of the insurance money he invested because a friend runs away with it. In conclusion, losing everything they have unites them because at the last moment Walter changes his mind about taking money from Mr. Lindner. Walter tells him that the family has moved into the house because their father earned it for them. He continues by saying the Younger family does not want to disturb the neighborhood peace or protest for bigger causes, and they would be nice neighbors. Walter tells Mr. Lindner that he does not want the money. At this moment the entire family’s spirits are lifted and they are proud of the decision Walter has made. This act of standing by your family to achieve the American dream of succeeding no matter who you are and where you come from unites them. They learn to support each other and put their family first. By owning a house, having a high morale, and to support of their family, each of them is on their way to fulfill their American dream