Home Deferring Dreams in a Raisin in the Sun

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In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” she does a great job of intertwining Langston Hughes’ poem “Montage of a Dream Deferred,” to incorporate her underlying theme of dreams. In his poem, Hughes asks "What happens to a dream deferred?" and then goes on to list the different things that might happen to a person if his dreams are put "on hold." His overall point is that whatever happens to a postponed dream is never positive. Meanwhile, the question Hansberry poses in her play is, "What happens to a person whose dreams grow more and more passionate — while his hopes of ever achieving those dreams grow dimmer each day?" Dreams get put on hold for many different reasons but in the case of the Youngers, it was their home environment that ensured that none of them would be able to accomplish their ultimate dreams. Lena, Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha Younger were a poor African American family that shared a small one-bedroom apartment in the south side of Chicago. Each person had vastly different goals and dreams. Being the head of the household, Lena dreamed the dreams of her children and would do whatever it took to make those dreams come true. Walter, Lena's oldest son, set his dream on starting his own business with a liquor store. He had the basic “American Dream” of starting from the bottom before ultimately working your way to the top with his entrepreneurial spirit. Beneatha, on the other hand, wanted to become a doctor when she got out of college and Ruth, Walter's wife, wanted to be wealthy. While trying to reach these dreams, each member of the the Younger family had their own dreams postponed and put on hold at some point or another for various reasons. Lena was a widow in her early sixties who devoted her life to her children after her husband's death. Retired from working for the Holiday's family, she was waiting for her husband's insurance money to arrive. With the ten thousand dollar check in her hand, Lena decided to buy a three thousand dollar house in Clybourne Park and she was also going to put some of the money in the bank for Beneatha's medical school. She realized this money was a one-way ticket for her family to get out of their environment and improve their lives and believed buying a house in a different neighborhood was the best way to do this. However, Walter was upset when he heard his mother had spent the insurance money on the house and thought it wasn't fair that Beneatha got some of it for her medical school while he got nothing for his liquor store business. Lena, who always wanted her son to be happy, trustingly gave the rest of the insurance money to Walter. However, he then gave the money to Bobo and Willy, two of his friends with questionable character, to help him get his liquor license. Unsurprisingly, Willy betrayed Walter, taking off with the money and causing his dream to crumble to pieces. Walter was deceived by his friend Willy but the reality is his dream was never going to happen anyway, and the rest of the family knew this. Living where they lived, the environmental pressures were extremely high. There were five people living in a tiny, run-down, roach-infested one-bedroom apartment, with two families sharing a bathroom. Everyone was looking for a way to improve their lives and Walter wanted to be the one to do it with his liquor store. “Sometimes it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me – just plain as day. The future, Mama. Hanging over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me – a big, looming blank space – full of nothing. Just waiting for me” (980). Walter knew there was no future ahead of him if he continued on his life path and he knew he needed to get out. Living in this type of environment, your dreams will always be put on hold until you can finally get out. Ruth, Walter's wife, was pregnant at the time her husband was trying to start up his liquor store and she realized her dream of being wealthy and having a fine family was simply...
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