Both A Raisin in the Sun and Hairspray show that dreams are valuable because they can motivate individual development and bring people together. A Raisin in the Sun shows these topics in a serious, realistic light, while Hairspray takes a more lighthearted, family-friendly approach.
Consider how in A Raisin in the Sun, Walter dreams of being rich. He wants to use the money from the family’s inheritance to invest in a liquor store because he thinks it will make him a lot of money. While he wants to invest in the store to financially provide for his family, he also wants to stop feeling so beaten down by society. Because of his race and class, he faces a lot of social limitations to the point where his self-worth is defined by his finances. The dream of one day being wealthy gives him a sense of purpose. In the end, Walter loses the money and his dream of the liquor store. However, he learns valuable lessons from this experience and grows as a person. He realizes that he does not have to singlehandedly support his family and that standing alongside them as they pursue their dreams is more important.
Similarly, the character of Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray also grows as a person because of her dreams. But her dreams are those of a white teenage girl, which make them a lot different from Walter’s. She dreams of being a dancer and does whatever it takes to go after this dream, including skipping school to audition for the Corny Collins Show. Tracy faces social limitations because of her physical appearance and her lack of popularity, but she stands up for herself and goes after what she wants regardless. She not only gets on the show, but she ends up with her crush Link, which demonstrates how dreams can motivate people to change their life.
A Raisin in the Sun and Hairspray also both demonstrate how dreams can unite people. For instance, in A Raisin in the Sun, Mama’s dream of having a new house brings the family together. When Karl Linder asks the family not to move to Clybourne Park because of their race, the family stands together and decides to go after this dream anyway. Up until this point, there has been a lot of tension in the family and Walter has not been really supportive of his mother. But in this scene Walter defends Mama’s dream, showing how dreams can bring people together. In Hairspray, Tracy dreams of a more integrated society. She stands up for this belief in many ways, like marching when Velma cancels “Negro Day.” Tracy’s pursuit of this dream teaches others, like Link, about the importance of integration and she ultimately helps integrate the Corny Collins Show.