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How does Hansberry write about dreams in ‘ A Raisin in the Sun’?

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How does Hansberry write about dreams in ' A Raisin in the Sun'? Setting: Lorriane Hansberry wrote 'A Raisin in the Sun' in the late 1950's. Hansberry's choice of a very poor, working-class Black family in the setting of Southside Chicago in the late 1950s, underlines the important role of dreams as a driving force in the lives of people with no other hope of survival or breakthrough from poverty and despair. The Younger family is typical of most Black families in the American south in the late 1950s. The Younger apartment is the only setting throughout the whole play emphasising the centrality of the home. Most were the descendants of freed slaves who lived in ghettos, had no landed property of their own, had little or no education and were still subject to extreme forms of prejudice, racial discrimination and humiliation from the majority White population. In such an environment, dreams are the means of support of hope and aspiration. The 'American dream' is being able to rise through their own ability, share prosperity and have a good way of living. The play opens with the author's vivid description of the Younger family's cramped, cockroach-infested, two-bedroom apartment with externally shared toilet and bathroom facilities. ...read more.


Indeed, he is so blinded by the obsession of having his mother's money that he explodes with rage when Mama Lena reveals payment of a deposit on the family's most essential need, namely: a larger house. Hansberry illustrates the nature of dreams when Walter Lee is offered $3,500 to use as he pleases. Whilst this sum is lower than the $10,000 he was originally dreaming of, it is a cruel twist of irony that in Act 2 Scene 2. A highly thrilled Walter Lee begins to dream of life as a downtown executive who attends conferences, employs bungling secretaries, sends Travis to America's best schools, drives a Chrysler and can afford to buy Ruth a Cadillac convertible. However, through his dreams, Hansberry is able to reveal the downfalls in Walter Lee's character: compared to his wife and mother, he is a man of very poor judgement and was extremely gullible to allow himself to be duped by his supposedly loyal friend, Willy Harris. Compared to her much older and more experienced mother, Beneatha's dreams portray the natural idealism of youth. Despite the poverty of her family background, Hansberry portrays her as a positive thinker who dreams of becoming a doctor without knowing where her medical school fees will come from. ...read more.


Likewise, as Beneatha's experience shows, dreams can be likened to a syrupy sweet: good to have but false and elusive if they are deferred. Through no fault of her own, Beneatha's dream is sweet and noble but it rapidly becomes as false as an illusion when Walter Lee loses the money that would have helped her enter medical school. Although Mama Lena's dream was never a painful obsession that festered like a running sore, smelled like rotten meat or delude like a syrupy sweet, she carried for such a long period of her life that it sagged like a heavy load until she finally bought the house in Clybourne Street. Whilst Walter Lee and Beneatha's dreams explode with the loss of most of the much-needed family capital, Mama Lena's dream remains as flexible as her symbolic plant, which she takes for planting in the garden of their new home. Mama is the only one of Hansberry's characters to realise her dream. For every one else, Hansberry's reference to the sun may well be symbolic of the bright light and hope our dreams represent. The playwright creates the question: should we allow our dreams to dry up like raisins in the sun or should we remain strong and committed, nurturing our dreams like Mama's plant until we achieve them? Donald Blankson-Hemans 11DEH ...read more.

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