Dreams Deferred in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun

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Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play, A Raisin in the Sun, culls its title from the infamous poem “Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes, and both works discuss what happens to a person when their dreams -- their hopes, their aspirations, their lives -- are endlessly put on hold. For this analysis of the dreams and character of Beneatha Younger in Raisin, I would like to pull on another dreamy poem of Langston Hughes’ entitled “Dream Boogie.” Like all the characters in the play, Beneatha has dreams that are dear to her, but their deferment does not cause them to dry up, fester, rot, crust, sag, or explode. Rather, the deferment of Bennie’s dreams expresses itself in her “dream boogie”: in her sarcastic, biting wit and her life perspective that …show more content…
To a stranger watching, it may seem to be a relatively simple conflict; however, much like the melody of a boogie, there’s much more than meets the eye (or ear), and the reality of the situation may surprise the unprepared.

We see the literal expression of a “dream boogie” in a scene that encapsulates the brother-sister dual-dreamer relationship of Beneatha and Walter Lee. After a heavy bout of drinking, Walter comes home to find Bennie dancing away to an African beat, and he joins in, at first comically, and later with the same spiritual intent that Bennie has. This connection between the two intensifies, climaxing with Beneatha calling “OCOMOGOSIAY” (79) at the top of her lungs while Walter chants atop the kitchen table. This distinctly un-boogielike dance is an expression of each character’s repressed dreams. Their rumblesome “happy beat” hides a distinctly unhappy sense of unfulfilled dreams on the part of Bennie, who sees the world working against her dreams of becoming a doctor and is fighting against all those who “still think that’s pretty funny” (50), including Walter Lee, who early on expresses his disregard for her ambitions. Though most of their interactions in the play are bitter and embroiled in conflict, this example of their shared dream boogie demonstrates that they share a common