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

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"A Raisin in the Sun" is a 1959 award-winning play by Lorraine Hansberry, notable for being the first play by an African-American woman to appear on Broadway.

In the play, the Younger family is about to receive a life-insurance check, and are conflicted on how to use it. The son wants to invest in a liquor store, while the daughter wants to attend medical school. The mother, Mama, wants to purchase a house:

Mama: ...I remember just as well the day me and Big Walter moved in here. Hadn't been married but two weeks and wasn't planning on living here no more than a year. (She shakes her head at the dissolved dream) We was going to set away, little by little, don't you know, and buy a little place out in Morgan Park. We had even picked out the house. (Chuckling a little) Looks right dumpy today. But Lord, child, you should know all the dreams I had 'bout buying that house and fixing it up and making me a little garden in the back (She waits and stops smiling) And didn't none of it happen.
(Hansberry, "A Raisin in the Sun," Google Books)

Mama's dream is to own a larger house for her family to live in; she understands her family's financial difficulties and wants to provide them with a comfortable space while they grow. Her dream is created from pragmatism; she wanted to save money "little by little" instead of taking a loan or mortgage. However, she recognizes that her personal dreams are not as important as her family's well-being; her "dreams" didn't happen because she spent her time helping her children and husband in their lives. She "deferred" her dreams for them.

Read the study guide:
A Raisin in the Sun

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