The Theme Of Dreams In A Raisin In The Sun

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Poems are tools used to demonstrate dissatisfaction. The play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry leads by foreshadowing its theme of crushed dreams by starting with the poem A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes. The play follows an African-American family in 1950s Chicago, consisting of protagonist Walter Lee Younger, his son Travis, his wife and Travis’ mother Ruth, sister Beneatha, and mother/grandmother Lena, called simply “Mama” in the play. Walter is ambitious and wants to move out of his small and run-down home and find a better job than a chauffeur for the kind of man he wishes he could be. Desperate to fulfill this dream, he takes $6,500 of his mother’s insurance money that she obtains shortly beforehand following the death of Walter Sr. and strikes a deal with two friends of his to purchase a liquor store. This causes him to be scammed by one of them. Langston Hughes’ poem accurately represents the state of the family after Walter’s investment.

In the play, the immediate answer to Walter’s betrayal of the family is to “explode” with anger. In the poem, the line “Or does (the dream) explode? (line 11) is added as an afterthought to Hughes’ wondering about what happens when a dream is dismissed. In Walter’s case, the dream is not so much dismissed as taken away from him by force, in a metaphorical explosion. This eruption affects the rest of the family as well, and Mama’s shock/anger is so severe that her first reaction is to repeatedly beat Walter in the
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