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Themes of Dreams in the “A Raisin in the Sun”


The story in A Raisin in the Sun is one of a kind that can relate to many African American in 1950s. The story outlines a family living near Chicago that struggles to maintain dignity and dream of a better life. It is evident also that the family struggles with poverty. The play focuses on $10,000 insurance check spending after the death of mama husband. The play is a masterpiece of the relationship between character and conflict. This paper discusses the relationship between the Harlem poem and A Raisin in the Sun play.

The title of the play A Rain in the Sun is taken from Hughes poem Harlem. It is from the line three of the poem “like a raisin in the sun?” I think the line from the Hughes poem is appropriate for the title of the play. Raisins in real life begin as grapes and when put out in the sun they lose juice. The line in the poem is well aligned with the story in the play of a family facing economic hardships and prejudice. Ruth is quoted in the play talking to Walter one morning that “you cannot get up and start talking about money” Act 1, Scene 1 as she did not want to hear about it (Hansberry, 489).

“What happens to a dream deferred” refers to dreams of the African American being put off in play context. It is apparent that the African Americans cannot aspire to great things as they are under the environment of oppression. It is evident that when Hughes depicts the aspirations, frustrations and hopes of the New York ghetto, he is expressing the feelings of Negroes throughout America in black ghettos. Also, Walter is despised by Ruth where she says that “he never says something new” Act 1, Scene 1. Walter on the other hand views it as a problem with the colored women (Hansberry, 495).

The impact of dream deferred is evident in the family in Hansberry’s play. In the case of Walter he wanted to be rich and successful, but tried only getting rich quick schemes that failed all the time. Walter is quoted in the play saying, “I have an interest in opening a liquor store” Act 1, Scene 1. Later Walters’ partner runs with the money he had invested, a loss that tested the psychological and spiritual mettle of the family members (Hansberry, 515-517). As for Beneathe in the play felt that she should become a doctor, she says that “am going to be a doctor and everybody around here better understand that” Act 1, Scene 1 (Hansberry, 506). When that dream was not to be achieved she gave up on helping others. This may be aligned to the line in the poem that says “maybe it just sags”.

The line “fester like a sore” in the poem is apparent in the play as the unaccomplished dreams by Walter and Beneathe cannot go away. This means that the deferred dreams cannot heal and be forgotten that easily as they feel low when they remember their ambitions (Hansberry, 525-526). The sixth line in the poem that says, “Does it stink like rotten meat?” Relates to the play on how the unachieved dreams haunt the characters. The rotten meat is viewed as a sign of a dead dream. This means the dream is ignored as there are no hopes of achieving it.

In conclusion, the Harlem poem by Hughes is related to the play by Hansberry. This is evident as the play tells a story of a family that struggles to maintain dignity and achieve dreams for a better life. Dream deferred refers to dreams of the African American dreams being put off in play such as that of Beneathe and Walter. The characters cannot aspire to great things in life as they are under the environment of oppression. When the poem talks about fester like sore it refers to the effects of unaccomplished dreams.

Work Cited
Hansberry, L. A Raisin in the Sun. Retrieved on 28th March, 2015: http://www.myteacherpages.com/webpages/tpalacios/files/ela11araisininthesun.pdf

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