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Dissecting A Dream Deferred in "A Raisin in the Sun"

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore — And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar more than — Like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags Like a heavy load. Or does it explode? (qtd. in Hansberry 1771)

Lorraine Hansberry chooses to open her play, Raisin in the Sun, with a provocative poem by Langston Hughes. The poem foreshadows the conflict in the drama and the internal struggles of all of the principal characters. The complete Younger family had to continuously contend with the obstacles that are presented by life on the Southside of Chicago. As Ralph A. Austen writes, “The term ‘bildungsroman’ (novel of ‘formation/’ ‘cultivation/’ or ‘development’) has, considering that the 1980s, come into wide use amongst critics of African…literature.” Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun can be regarded as a dramatic version of a bildungsroman simply because, although the primary characters are physical adults, each of them experiences an obstacle that ironically ushers him or her into correct adulthood.

Raisin in the Sun is written around a loved ones of African Americans struggling to attain a version of the American dream in a society exactly where the odds are stacked against them. According to Michelle Gordon, “Raisin‘s forthright engagement with Chicago segregation at the grass roots exposes and denaturalizes the workings of mid-century urban segregation and massive white resistance to black self-determination. Like other influential black urban writers—including Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, and Langston Hughes—Hansberry deploys her aesthetics of segregation to uncover ‘not only the outcomes of [segregation], but also the correct and inescapable result in of it—which of course is the present organization of American society’” (122). To address the ‘results of segregation’ that every single character faces, one particular should focus on the very first line of Hughes’ poem. What in fact takes place to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Just before addressing the man characters of this drama it is important to mention a character who in no way makes an appearance in the drama but has an crucial part in the dreams of the Younger family– Mr. Younger. The drama begins with the Younger family anticipating the ten thousand dollar payout on Mr. Younger’s life insurance coverage policy. Every character has his or her own thought of how the insurance funds ought to be spent. In reality, the excitement about their newfound monetary stability is so dominant that it is tough to believe that it comes at the price of losing the patriarch of their family members.

1 is led to think that Mr. Younger had a dream to move his family members from the small 3-bedroom apartment that they shared and into a house that they could contact their own. After the household finds out that Walter was scammed and lost all the insurance coverage income, Lena (Mama) Younger laments: “I seen… him… evening following night… come in… and look at that rug… and then appear at me… the red showing in his eyes… the veins moving in his head… I seen him develop thin and old before he was forty… working and functioning like somebody’s workhorse… killing himself… and you–you give it all away in a day” (1819). Mr. Younger dream was deferred, even in death. He worked his entire life to give his family the security and life they all craved. His efforts may have even caused him to succumb to an early death. Hopes of his dream becoming realized are resurrected with his death only to be crushed again when Walter loses all the cash in his attempts to fund a liquor retailer. Mr. Younger’s dream brought on him to physically wither away. In addition, right after the insurance funds is lost, Mama Younger realizes that all his challenging work and, inevitably, his life quantity to is funds that none of the family members members could advantage from.

Does it fester like a sore-and then run? Walter Lee Younger is a man with massive dreams and even larger disappointments. He is continuously taking his frustrations out on the folks who are closest to him. All through the majority of the novel, Walter Younger so concerned with generating money that he constantly blames his family members since he has been unable to get the riches he desires. Walter lashes out at his wife, Ruth, since he feels she never supports his dreams. Walter quips, “That’s what’s wrong with the colored lady in this world…Don’t realize about developing their guys up and generating them feel like somebody. Like they can do something” (1777). Walter is jealous of his sister, Beneatha, because his mother is willing to financially help her dreams of becoming a medical professional but won’t endorse any of his “ideas”. Naturally, Walter Lee is prone to having temper tantrums when he doesn’t get what he desires but he lacks the duty to carry out tasks like going to perform and generating good monetary options.

Although Walter’s stunted maturity is partly due to his domestic upbringing, it is also be contributed to the social setting that he is forced to live in. He is a man with a wife and child who, since of poverty, is forced to reside with his mother and sister in a little two-bedroom residence. Who wouldn’t be desperate for a lot more? In a 1961 unfilmed screenplay of Raisin in the the Sun that was also written by Hansberry, Walter Lee, struggling with the understanding that his mother has just used the insurance coverage funds to acquire a house in Clybourne Park, skips operate and drives to a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Chicago where he stands to observe cows awaiting slaughter: “These open-air scenes are successfully juxtaposed with the claustrophobic apartment that is typically the site of the drama in the play. Walter lives in two cramped rooms with his sister, mother, wife, and son, and feels cooped up as effectively in his job which calls for him to commit much of the day in a auto, at the beck and get in touch with of his boss” (Tritt 52). Walter’s anger stems not from hatred or jealousy towards the members of his household but from a frustration with his place in a society exactly where all the odds are stacked against the black loved ones unit. The result is a bitter man who unconsciously sets out on a path of self-sabotage that threatens to destroy him and his family members.

Fortunately, Walter doesn’t end the play in this exact same arrested state, and it is through yet another dashed hope that Walter Lee reaches maturity. Following he is conned out of the remaining insurance income, it seems as if all hope is lost for Walter. He makes plans to sell their recently purchased house back to the Clybourne Park Improvement Association for a profit. When Mr. Linder arrives to comprehensive the obtain, Walter begins to feel of his household, the challenging perform, sacrifice and the resilience it took to get them to a place where they could be property owners. Walter states, “…We have all thought about your offer and we have decided to move into our residence simply because my father–my father–he earned it…We don’t want your money” (1829). In that moment, Walter comes to the realization that the structure of his family members is more critical than any quantity of economic wealth he could amass. By way of this realization, he is in a position to make the dreams of his entire loved ones, such as himself and Mr. Younger, come correct.

Does it stink like rotten meat? By all accounts, Beneatha is the excellent hope of her mother and her family. This intelligent, vivacious girls is the epitome of early black feminism and self-awareness. Beneatha knows precisely what she wants and will not be forced to settle for much less by her brother or her possible suitor, George Murchison. Even so, someplace along the lines Beneatha appears to have purchased into her personal hype, and rather of making use of her education to elevate her relatives she utilizes it to demean them. There is no mistaking the fact that Beneatha loves her loved ones members but, because of her education, she views herself as superior to them and often belittles their beliefs, planet views, and aspirations. When Lena says, “God willing” about Beneatha’s tuition payment, Beneatha’s begins an anti-religious rant in try to “educate” her mother on the allusion of theology. Beneatha proclaims: Mama, you do not comprehend. It is all a matter of suggestions, and God is just one particular thought I do not accept. It is not important…I just get tired of Him receiving all the credit for all the issues the human race achieves through its own stubborn work. There merely is no blasted God–there is only man and it is he who tends to make who makes miracles!” (1785) Though Beneatha raises some valid queries, the delivery of her opinion is disrespectful, demeaning, and off-putting. Beneatha has a powerful personality this in itself is not necessarily a poor thing. However, Beneatha’s lack of tact and continuous want to assert herself as the family members intellect frequently lead to arguments that have an effect on the mood of the whole household.

Beneatha’s accurate enlightenment comes by way of her Nigerian suitor, Asagai. In the 2008 film version of Raisin in the Sun, Asagai points out, “There is anything extremely wrong when all the dreams of a house depend on one particular man dying.” Beneatha ultimately realizes that a single setback need to not be an excuse to give up on one’s dream. It is via this realization that Beneatha gains a renewed sense of purpose. Beneatha also begins to see her imperfection and the limitations of her education, an awareness which in turn assists her obtain empathy for her household members and an understanding of the decisions that they have made for the family members.

Does it crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet? 1 of the most often glossed-more than characters is Ruth Younger. Ruth does serves as a mirror of the matriarch of the loved ones, but she also faces her own personal trials in the play. In a family that seems to be at continual odds, Ruth is the voice of purpose: she is the peacemaker and the homemaker. Ruth is the only character besides Mama Younger who is continuously taking into consideration what is very best for the complete family members as opposed to what will benefit her. It is her selflessness that causes her to contemplate obtaining an illegal abortion when she finds out she is pregnant. After enduring the continuous verbal jabs of her husband and unfavorable input from Beneatha about her adding another person to their already cramped quarters, Ruth decides that the best thing for the family members would be for her to terminate her pregnancy. In the 2008 film A Raisin in the Sun, a scene shows Ruth anticipating her “back alley” abortion. As she waits in the rear of the beauty salon, the camera does an intense close-up on the pot of boiling water that is sterilizing the abortion instruments. With tears in her eyes, Ruth turns the stove off and rushes out of the salon and into the pouring rain. Though the scene has no dialogue, the scene highlights how the monetary tension of a family threatens to corrupt even most incorruptible of characters. When Ruth tends to make the decision to keep her youngster, she solidifies her position as the moral compass of her family. Ironically, maintaining her youngster was the ideal factor for her loved ones simply because it is what helps heal the rift among her and Walter Lee.

Does it sag like a heavy load? Lena (Mama) Younger is a hard-working lady who carries the hopes and dreams of her whole family members. Her life has not been picturesque. Till not too long ago, she has had to contend with a mean and unfaithful husband but, like her mirror Ruth, she will do what she have to to hold her family members united. It is this overwhelming sense of responsibility to her family members that causes her to also be a single of the biggest hindrances to her family’s maturity. Mama Younger’s enjoy for her kids causes her to allow their bad behavior.

Mama Younger smothers her two adult young children, a fact that is apparent simply because they nonetheless live with her. Mama Younger is consistently nurturing her daughter Beneatha and treats her like she is a teenager rather than a twenty year-old woman: “MAMA:…Bennie honey, it’s as well drafty for you to be sitting ‘round half dressed. Where’s your robe? BENEATHA: In the cleaners. MAMA: Well, go get mine and put it on. BENEATHA: I’m not cold, Mama, truthful. MAMA: I know-but you so thin… BEANEATHA: [Irritably.] Mama, I’m not cold” (1780). Mama Younger is continually meddling in the smallest affairs of her household. In truth, she takes her enabling behaviors to an all-time higher when she decides to give Walter Lee the bulk of Mr. Younger’s insurance coverage money following he throws a supersized temper tantrum due to the fact Mama would not financially assistance his get-rich-swift scheme.

Via the course of the play, Mama Younger has to find out to take a step back and enable her young children the opportunity to make their personal decisions. Lena has to understand how to guide her youngsters with out outright telling them what they ought to do. For instance, close to the finish of act 3, Mama cautions Lena, “When you begins measuring somebody, measure him right, kid, measure him correct. Make confident you take into account what hills and valleys he come by way of before he got to wherever he is” (1827). Quickly right after, Lena provides Walter the opportunity to make the choice about the sale of their new home and, thankfully, he does not disappoint. Mama’s capacity to permit her children to make adult decisions is the catalyst for their maturity. In addition, Lena’s efforts also assist lighten her burden of getting to be the ever-watchful mother when Beneatha and Walter make great options on their own, she can rest assured that they have come into manhood and womanhood.

Unbeknownst to many, A Raisin in the Sun was inspired by actual events in Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood. In the 1940s, the Hansberrys faced the situation of housing segregation head-on when they moved into a segregated residential neighborhood. In her essay, Michelle Gordon records how Hansberry recalls, “ [my] desperate and courageous mother, patrolling [the] house all night with a loaded German luger, doggedly guarding her four kids, whilst [her] father fought the respectable part of the battle in the Washington court”(qtd. in Gordon 121). It was the Hansberrys’ stance that paved the way for the ruling of Shelley v. Kramer, which declared residential segregation unconstitutional (Gordon). Reflecting this tough reality, all of the main characters in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun are flawed. However, each and every character also has very honorable qualities that make him or her sympathetic to audiences. Walter is irresponsible, yet his aspirations are fueled by his desire to see his family prosper. Beneatha can be an opinionated know-it–all, yet she is intelligent, self-assured, and wants to heal people. Ruth could be viewed as a pushover, but she is always prepared to help the household reconcile and she selflessly puts the wants of her family ahead of her own desires. Mama is the meddling matriarch of the loved ones, however she loves and protects her family members with unparalleled fierceness.

Throughout A Raisin in the Sun, each loved ones member goes via a period of turmoil which inevitably ushers him or her into a new level of maturity. Each and every of the characters has selections and sooner or later makes the options that maintain the loved ones united. Even even though A Raisin in the Sun is a play about urbanization and the effects of segregation, it can also be viewed as an African-American bildungsroman because each of the principal character experiences a transition to an additional level of maturity. Again, one can ask, “What takes place to a dream deferred?” A Raisin in the Sun teaches audiences that individuals don’t have to yield to the unfavorable effects of their atmosphere. Lorraine Hansberry shows that deferred dreams can give birth to resilience, unity, and new dreams.

Functions Cited Primary Supply Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin in the Sun.” The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Ed. Henry Louis Gates and Nellie Y. McKay. New York: Norton & Business, 2004. 1771-1830. Print. Secondary Sources A Raisin in the Sun. Dir. Kenny Leon. Perf. Sean Combs, Sanaa Lathan, and Phylicia Rashad. Paris Qualles,2008. Film. Austen, Ralph A. “Struggling With The African Bildungsroman.” Study In African Literatures 46.three (2015): 214-231. MLA International Bibliography. Internet. 18 Mar. 2016. Gordon, Michelle. “‘Somewhat Like War’: The Aesthetics Of Segregation, Black Liberation, And A Raisin In The Sun. “African American Review 42.1 (2008): 121-133. MLA International Bibliography. Internet. 18 Mar. 2016. Tritt, Michael. “A View From The Stockyards: Lorraine Hansberry’s Allusion To The Jungle In The Unfilmed Screenplay Of A Raisin In The Sun.” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal Of Short Articles, Notes, And Testimonials 21.1 (2008): 51-57. MLA International Bibliography. Net. 18 Mar. 2016.
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