Raisin in the Sun

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Dreams and Raisins
A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that debuted on Broadway in 1959. It was the first Broadway play written by a black playwright. The title comes from the poem "A Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes. The play portrays a few weeks in the life of the Youngers, an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. The theme expresses the importance of dreams and how achieving those dreams can come with various obstacles and struggles. Hansberry uses many literary elements to convey this theme such as symbolism, diction, imagery, and structure.

Symbolism in the play includes Mama’s plant, the money Travis is given by Walter, and the new house. The plant symbolizes Mama’s family and how she nurtures the plant just as she nurtures the family. But also black people in general at that time and how the plant struggles to survive with limited exposure to sunlight just as blacks of mid-19th Century America struggle to survive with limited opportunities. At the beginning of the play, Travis asks his mother for 50 cents for a school activity. After his mother says she does not have this meager sum, Walter gives Travis a dollar, telling him to spend the extra on himself. The 50 cents represents the legitimate needs money can buy; the dollar represents the desire for material goods beyond these needs. Money is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how people use it (Act I, Scene 1, page 28). And the new house represents courage, hope, and growth—courage, because the family is willing to confront the prejudice it encounters in a white neighborhood; hope, because they believe the house may help provide a better future for them; growth, because—like the garden Mama plans for the yard of the house—they will be able to see their lives with new opportunities to gain respectability and achieve emotional, moral, and economic growth.

The diction throughout Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun plays a very important...
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