A Comparison of the Dream Deferred in A Raisin in the Sun and Harlem

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A Dream Deferred in A Raisin in the Sun and Harlem

In Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun, the author reveals a hard-working, honest African-American family struggling to make their dreams come true. Langston Hughes' poem, "Harlem," illustrates what could happen if those dreams never came to fruition. Together, both Hansberry and Hughes show the effects on human beings when a long-awaited dream is thwarted by economic and social hardships.

Each of the characters in A Raisin in the Sun has a dream for which they base their whole happiness and livelihood on attaining. However, the character of Lena Younger, or Mama, differs from the other members of her family. Time after time, Mama postpones her dream of owning a
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Mama concerns herself only with the fact that she and her family will own the house, and not have to dwell in the tired, old apartment on Chicago's Southside. In a sense, Mama's dream has "crust[ed] and sugar[ed] over like a sugary sweet" (Hughes Lines 7-8). Her dream has changed to fit the circumstances she must cope with. The character of Mama represents those who do not shrivel up and die just because their dream does.

Walter Lee Younger, Lena's son, is second only to Lena in arousing sympathy and pathos from the audience. The entire play shows the development of Walter's quest for manhood. Similar to Lena, Walter's dream of owning a liquor store becomes hindered by his economic station, or lack of money, and his social position. In the opening scenes of A Raisin in the Sun, Walter does not occupy the position of head of the household. This secondary position to Mama demonstrates his frustration with his limiting environment. Even Walter's job show subservience and inequality as a chauffeur to wealthy white people. Elizabeth Phillips comments, "Consquently, he[Walter] is forever on the lookout for a means of making more money, not only to enable him to give luxuries as well as necessities, but also to satisfy the deep inner need of every man to prove that he is capable of great achievement" (54).

Walter's great achievement appears as a failure at first before revealing the man that he has become. The destruction
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