Langston Hughes’ in his poem "Harlem (A Dream Deferred)" and Lorraine Hansberry’s "A Raisin in the Sun" look at the impact of racial prejudice in the lives of African-Americans. The main idea of both writers is show how the economic effect of how racism leads individuals to dream about a better life. Both writers describe the psychology of having dreams and ambitions, and the how living in a society built on racism conflicts with the success of dreams.
The link between the both pieces is far more intricate than just an individual facing racial prejudice. It is about risky choices and the potential outcomes of these choices versus the unfulfilled and shattered dreams and ambitions of the black race. Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, because of her personal experiences with discrimination and probably use Hughes’ poem in the epigraph to reinforce the dreams and aspirations of the black spreads across time. Whether or not the dreams become a reality, depends largely on the sacrifices an individual is willing to make for achieving his dreams.
Nevertheless, blacks have the same choices in present day as they had years ago, but now more dreams are realized because of a shift in how much tolerant society has become of the black race. Lorraine Hansberry uses Hughes’ poem as the epigraph in her play to immediately draw readers to the question of what happens when a race has dreams. The reader anticipates that the dream may be put on the sidelines or ‘deferred’ because of the racism that exists in the society where blacks are still deemed as inferior. The reality is that one can ‘defer’ or give up on their dreams or fight on with positive of negative enthusiasm. It is ultimately a personal choice for the individual.
It is quite clear from the onset of the play that each of the main characters has a personal dream of how they can elevate themselves above the situation that keeps them in an inferior position in the society. Beneatha dreams of becoming a doctor, Walter dreams of having his own business and Mama who dreams of being able to own a house so that all of her children can prosper. Walter’s dream is one that he is quite proud of and as he talks to Travis, he makes reference to this with pride. He tells him about the business transaction he is going to make that will change all of their lives “I’ll pull the car up on the driveway just a plain black Chrysler, I think, with white walls—no—black tires the gardener will be clipping away at the hedges and he’ll say, “Good evening, Mr. Younger.” And I’ll say, “Hello, Jefferson, how are you this evening?”
It is obvious from these wants of Walter that this is closely associated to the dialogues he hears in his work as a chauffeur and equally with his personal thought about the type of houses that the affluent in the society live in and the vehicles that that belongs to them and how this seems to make their lives more comfortable. Nevertheless, Walter continues to speak about having an improved bond with Ruth and that Travis studying at the university. This implies that Walter’s dreams are well thought out and that they are not frivolous but in fact the dreams are grounded in reality. These dreams and aspirations are important to him as he strives to bring out the importance of maintaining his family.
However in the play, the reader sees that each character learns to accept that the most significant dream for them is to own a house regardless of their personal dreams as it brings them together as a family. Each of the character is willing to temporarily put their personal dreams on hold to achieve the dream of owning a house. In essence, the characters in A Raisin in the Sun each follow their individual dreams, but in the end, they place their personal dreams in the background to work towards the collective dreams for the house as it is important to the unity and endurance of their family.
The theme of dreams and family go together because as a family there is the ultimate dream to own a home yet Hansberry dwells more on the theme of dreams in the play. Each character dreams of a better life for himself but does not forget that while everyone has dreams, the family and the goals set for the play supersede all personal dreams. The frustration and problems faced by the Youngers as they work towards their dreams, results from the inability of these dreams becoming a reality. The deferral Beneatha’s dreams of becoming a doctor occurs because of society’s stereotype that women in the medical field can only serve as nurses.
In concluding, A Raisin in the Sun is fundamentally based on dreams. The major characters fight to cope with the unfair realities that govern their lives. In addition, the title of refers to a speculation that the poet, Langston Hughes, posed in a poem he penned about dreams that are forgotten or put off. He wonders at whether the dreams dry up “like a raisin in the sun.” Every character in the play has an individual dream—Beneatha dreams of becoming a doctor, Walter wants to be financially secure so that he is able to take care of his family’s need. The Younger’s fight to accomplish these dreams and their happiness and hopelessness is connected to the achievement of their dreams or their failure to reach these dreams. However by the end of the play each character learns that the dream of owning their own hone is probably the most important of their dreams as it bring unity to the family. Walter’s cantankerous attitude conflicts with Ruth’s dreams of becoming a suitable wife. Their dreams are not forgotten and neither are they “deferred” they are just put on hold in an effort to emphasize to the reader that happiness of family is the ultimate dream one can have.