Discuss the title of the play, A Raisin in the Sun. How does it relate to the dreams of each of the characters?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The title of the play, A Raisin in the Sun, comes from the Langston Hughes poem commonly referred to as "Dream Deferred."  In this poem, Hughes asks the question "What happens to a Dream Deferred?"  From this opening line, the poet seeks to provide a variety of answers to the question of the denial of dreams.  One such answer is, "Does it dry up- like a raisin in the sun?" In this image, the picture that is conjured in the mind is a grape on the vine, ripening in a beautiful manner.  Yet, over time, the harshness of the sun and the intensity of its rays dry out the juices and drain the succulence from the grape, until there is only a raisin, a shell of its former self, remaining.  The dreams of each character seem to be exposed to these harsh social rays.  Walter constantly deals with the deferral of his dreams, either through social injustice, economic challenges, or through his own sense of cynicism.  Ruth's dreams involve seeing her family succeed with respectability, and enter a setting for the child she is carrying.  She is compelled to have to serve as both the caretaker of dreams, and having to deal with the reality of their deferrals, the powerful rays of the sun.  Berneatha holds dreams of being a doctor, but economic challenges and the social challenges of being potential wife to Joseph cause her to have to endure obstacles to her dreams.  Throughout the play, the notion of dreams being exposed to harsh treatment, like a raisin in the sun, is a resoundingly powerful element.

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