What is Hansberry's view on the American Dream and how does the ending of A Raisin in the Sun give evidence towards her vision?

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

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Hansberry has a fairly positive and optimistic view of the American Dream.  She rightly concedes that for people of color, specifically African- Americans, there are some challenging factors in terms of race and the social order's perception of it that make this pursuit challenging.  She also accurately depicts that economic class plays a large role in how one can appropriate their own version of the American Dream.  Yet, she rightly, in my mind, does not lock individuals in these stratifications from their pursuit of the American Dream.  Hansberry's view of the Dream seems to be that it is difficult and requires a sense of courage with commitment in order to pursue it.  She also suggests that there are many distractions on this voyage of which one must be vigilant.  In this sense, those who are in pursuit of the American Dream are no different than Homeric characters who must battle through much in way of adversity on their quest and even then, success is not guaranteed.  For each Odysseus, there are many more Hectors.  For each Walter, there might be more Bobos or nosy neighbors who envy others.  In the end, Hansberry believes that the pursuit of the dream is worth it, in that it allows our own plants to be stronger and better.  She is mindful of Hughes' poem, but offers a vision that might diverge from its last line.

teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The end of A Raisin in the Sun suggests that Hansberry believes that the American Dream is possible for everyone.  Mama has been nursing her little plant for a while, and throughout the play, the characters refer to her little plant.  At the end of the play, Mama takes the plant with her to the family's new home in Clybourne Park.  It is obvious that the future for the Younger family holds some hardships because the residents of Clybourne Park do not want them in the neighborhood.  However, the Youngers remain hopeful that their new home will provide better opportunities for them all.  The plant symbolizes this hopeful vision and suggests that Hansberry's message is the same--the American Dream may be achieved by all with perseverance, hope, and vision.

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