What are the dreams of each person in A Raisin in the Sun and what forces, internal and external, defer, modify, or block each one?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mama's dream is not only to own her own place; it is also to have a place that is favorable to her children's development. Ironically, her own children are part of what hinders her external dream from coming true quickly and smoothly. In addition to her family's infighting, the time period in which she is trying to achieve her dream is not completely favorable toward her, for even after she finds a house and makes her decision about the money, she has to face unwelcoming white neighbors.

Walter's dream is to be his own boss and to feel like a man. He is the biggest hindrance in accomplish his own dream.  Once Walter realizes at the end of the play what it really means to be the man of the household and to make a good decision, he starts getting closer to achieving his dream.  Undeniably, Walter's "friends" also have a part in blocking his dream since he actually had the money to move toward owning his own business, but he placed his trust in the wrong people.

Beneatha dreams of making her life significant.  Like Walter, she is the biggest problem in holding back her dream's attainability.  She is hesitant to make a decision about interests or men because she is so afraid that she'll make the wrong one or that that choice will not accurately show who she is.  When Beneatha is able to determine what she wants to be and accomplish, she has already started to realize her dream. In her situation, Asagai is actually a character who advances her dream.

Ruth just wants a content family.  She is similar to Mama not only in what she wants but also in how she treats Walter.  She truly wants Walter to be happy, but he makes it difficult for him to know how to encourage him.  At the play's end, she realizes that Walter must take action himself, and only then can she see her own dream succeed.

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A Raisin in the Sun

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