What are five good topics or themes in A Raisin in the Sun?

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

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Hansberry's work is a very provocative one and much comes out of it.  I think that one of the most powerful themes in the work is the discussion of forms of social stratification in modern society.  The play explores issues of race, class, gender, as well as age as elements that impact the barriers that individuals face in society.  Through the different characters, we can see each of these dynamics unfold.  At the same time, I think that another element that comes out is the definition of the American Dream.  The notion of upward mobility is something that is examined as a part of the American Dream and what it means to be "successful."  The Younger family is unique in that their idea of accomplishing the American Dream of moving into Clybourne Park is also concurrent with them becoming more close as a family.  The play forces us to ponder the flip side to this equation.  Hansberry is wise enough to make the reader question what would happen if a family had to choose one of the elements over the other and the difficulties that are posed in such a setting.  I think that there is another topic brought out in the play as to whether it is a work of comedy or tragedy.  In this light, one can make a case for the work to be comedic in that the Younger family's struggles are validated, and much like the plant, they will grow.  Yet, there can be a tragic condition offered in that there are many more families that do not experience the success of the Youngers.  For these families, will their dreams become "a heavy load?"  I think that this becomes another topic that arises from the drama.

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