Raisin is based upon a Langston Hughe's poem called "Dream
Deferred," which essentially asks the question, "what happens to
our dreams if we do not chase them, but rather ignore them?" Hughes
uses several images and metaphors to answer this question; among
them, he states that a dream might shrivel up like a raisin in
the sun if unpursued.
That being said, the play is about the conflict confronting the
Younger family as it decides how to spend a $10,000 life insurance
check from the passing of the family patriarch. Mama
Younger, the widow, wants to move into a nice home in a
white neighborhood; Beneatha wants to use the money for
medical school; Walter wants to use the money to open a liquor
store. To complicate matters, Ruth (Walter's wife)
finds out that she is expecting a baby, yet she and
Walter can hardly afford to take care of their son
Travis. She considers having an abortion, which runs as
a subplot to the drama.
The conflict about spending the money raises questions and
concerns about family, traditions, and Walter's "being a man"
in his family. This gives you a sense of what the play
is about without giving everything away....