A Sense of Self, Dignity and Identity in a Raisin in the Sun

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While living in a world that tries to shape us into becoming what it wants us to be, it is the dreams we possess that guides us to follow our own tendencies. The idea of identity is closely linked to dreams, because in order to have a dream, one must possess self-awareness. The search for self and the journey for identity are central themes in Lorraine Hansberry’s play.

A Raisin in the Sun, does not use the typical black vs. white scenario, it broadens the subject of race into a group of people and their position on the “social ladder.” Social injustice kept many African Americans from achieving a decent life and fulfilling any of their goals. Many African Americans felt that they were fighting a losing battle when it came to their dreams because they were still living in the “white man’s world.” This reality affects Walter in numerous ways because he was exposed to it on a daily basis when going to work; most of the wealthy people he encounters were white. When he returns home, he walks into a small apartment that he shares with his mother, sister, wife and son. When Walter walks into the apartment he sees the life he is forced to live and knows he does not want it forever (Chelsea House Library, 1716). He is working against the system that has not encouraged him to be all that he can be, so his aspirations are often coupled with notions of “get rich quick schemes.” Walter chooses this route because he feels it is the only way he and his family will be able to experience a better life (1717). Walter’s identity is under assault throughout the entire play because he constantly feels inadequate because he is unable to provide for his family.

Walter becomes the central focus of the play because it is through his actions that everyone learns a valuable lesson. The primary concern of the play is that Walter recognizes that, as a man, he must begin from, not discard, himself, that dignity is a quality of men, not bank accounts (American Ethnic Writers,...
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