Langston Hughes wrote: What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
A Raisin in the Sun by Loraine Hansberry centers on the theme of dreams and aspirations. The play centers on a black family; however, the play’s appeal is not confined to one particular race. Everyone wants a better life and his share of the American dream. The "better life" may look different for each character; yet, the core inspiration is common to all men. This drama takes its place as classic literature relevant in the world today.
The Young family faces problems that were typical of the middle twentieth century. The family works in subservient jobs that do not fulfill them. The protagonist Walter Young has a dream that he feels will give him the ability to adequately take care of his family. What will happen if Walter’s dream is deferred? Walter wants to be defined as a “man.”
- He wants his son to be able to respect him.
- His greatest motivation is to have Travis go to the college of his choice.
- He desires to be able to give his wife the things that she wants.
- Walter would like to be like his father.
- He craves his mother’s approval.
- He aspires to take care of his mother in her old age.
- He would like to be able to take care of his family.
These are aspirations that all men want. They are not dated or racial specific. To Walter, these are dreams that cannot be deferred. Walter almost makes a costly mistake, but he chooses the upright path.
Walter: …we are a very proud and that this is my son...Travis, come here... and he makes the sixth generation our family in this country. ..we have decided to move into our house because my father—he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money.
Walter becomes the man that his wife and mother knew that he could be.
Hansberry also looks at the role of women. Her portrayal of woman shows the growth of women in society. The grandmother Lena grew up with the idea that she was dependent and subservient to her husband. She had her family to take care of and her wishes were eclipsed by her family’s needs. To her, family is everything.
Ruth, Walter’s wife, takes the next step in the woman’s role in society. She talks back to her husband and states her mind. Although she is frustrated by her husband, Ruth wants to satisfy his needs. She speaks on his behalf within the family.
Beneatha, Walter’s sister, is the new woman. She has her own aspirations, attends college to be a doctor, and wants to go to Africa. Her mother cannot understand her; on the other hand, Lena wants her to be happy. Her dream will not be delayed because she will find a way to satisfy her own needs.
These women and their roles are not necessarily race specific. They represent the female and the changes in their place in society. This wonderful play reaches out to all people that want to better themselves. Dreams and choices make this play germane today.