In "A Raisin in the Sun," what is Beneatha's dream?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play "A Raisin in the Sun" was the first Broadway production written by an African-American woman.

The Younger family in the play are to receive a life-insurance check and debate how to spend the money. The mother wants to buy a house in a better neighborhood, the son wants to invest in a friend's business, and the daughter, Beneatha, wants to attend medical school:

RUTH: (A wisdom-of-the-ages manner. To MAMA) Well, she'll get over some of this.

BENEATHA: Get over it? What are you talking about, Ruth? Listen, I'm going to be a doctor. I'm not worried about who I'm going to marry yet, if I ever get married.

MAMA and RUTH: If!

MAMA: Now, Bennie...

BENEATHA: Oh, I probably will... but first I'm going to be a doctor, and George, for one, still thinks that's pretty funny. I couldn't be bothered with that. I am going to be a doctor and everybody around here better understand that!
(Hansberry, "A Raisin in the Sun, Google Books)

Beneatha is struggling with her personal identity; she can't seem to focus on one interest, "flitting" from one thing to another without ever finishing. Her interest in high-society wanes as she finds her wealthy boyfriend boring, and her interest in African culture is sparked by her relationship with a Nigerian man. Because of her constantly changing interests, Beneatha's family is skeptical that she is serious about becoming a doctor, but this is the one interest that she holds to throughout the play, attending biology classes and repeating her claim to anyone who will listen. 

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A Raisin in the Sun

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