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Deferred Dreams - a Raisin in the Sun - the Play

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Since birth, almost every human has at least one dream. Whether it be big as becoming an astronaut or a ballerina, or as small as doing well on a test; dreaming is a common thing. However, not all dreams are feasible and possible to achieve. When one gives up their dream,a feeling of disappointment if common. The play, "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry depicts what happens when an a dream is completely out of reach. Hansberry also portrays how different people may handle the great disappointment of a lost dream. Often, when and individual realizes they must give up on a dream or goal, feelings of frustration, desperation, and fury often ensue. Yet, one can overcome these feelings by finding happiness and intangible joy controlled by oneself.

In "A Raisin in the Sun", frustration seems to play a major part in the characters' attitudes. at the beginning of the play, Walter Younger is attempting to explain to his wife, Ruth, how unhappy he is with their life. However, during his rant, she does not listen to him. Walter becomes so angry that he swears at her and leaves the house in a huff. Her lack of understanding makes him even more frustrated with their live because she doesn't care how he feels. Later in the play, Walter and Ruth engage in another argument and he says possibly one of the meanest and harshest lines of the play- "Who even cares about you?" (Hansberry 2.116). Clearly, Walter is so frustrated with his own life that he wants the make Ruth feel exactly how he does. The only way he can achieve this is by being terribly mean to her for no other reason. Walter is not the only character that is frustrated by Ruth's behavior; their young son Travis is as well. One morning, Travis explains to his mother that he needs 50 cents for school and is disappointed when his mother says that the family does not have the money for that. He politely asks his mother if he can carry groceries after school to make the money, yet she also refuses that idea. Travis proceeds to eat his breakfast in sheer annoyance due to his mother's lack of understanding. This is proof that even at such a young age, anyone can become frustrated when they cannot get what they want. Claude McKay exemplifies this in his poem "The White House" when he states that "Your door is shut against my tightened face/ And I am as sharp as steel with discontent" (McKay, "The White House",1-2). It is obvious that the speaker of the poem is angered by the fact that he is excluded metaphorically or possibly physically. The fact that he explains how he is "sharp as steel with discontent" shows that he clearly unhappy with his treatment, and frustrated that he is not included.

Fury is another main theme in this play. At the end of the play, Mama, Walter's mother, finds out that Walter has lost all of the family's insurance money they received after the death of her husband. Upon hearing the news, she proceeds to beat Walter in the face, due to his bad judgment. Since Walter has ruined his family's trust in him and has now ruined the dream of a better life for her family, Mama is understandably overcome with feelings of anger and disappointment towards her son. Beneatha also has a similar feeling towards Walter when she finds out the money for her medical schooling is completely gone. Bennie says possibly the meanest things she can say to Walter. When he first enters she says to him:

BENEATHA:...Yes-just look at what the New World hath wrought!...Just look! There he is!... There he is- Symbol of a Rising Class! Entrepreneur! Titan of the system! Did you dream of yachts on lake Michigan, Brother? Did you see yourself on that Great Day sitting down at the conference table surrounded by all the mighty bald-headed men in America?... I look at you and I see the final triumph of stupidity in the world! (Hansberry 3.58)

Although she did not resort to physical violence like Mama, Beneatha's harsh words may wound Walter more than Mama's blows ever could. When someone disappoints another, such has Walter has done to his family, it is only natural to feel extremely angry. Claude McKay also depicts the feeling fury in his poem "The White House." The poem expresses feelings of an presumably minority man who feels excluded from society. In line 6, the speaker calls himself, "A chafing savage down a decent street"(McKay, "The White House",6) This line is evidence of bitter hatred for the oppressive culture due to the way they even make him hate himself. It is insinuated that the man dreams to be treated equally, and now that his dream of that is gone, he has given up.

Possibly the most noted feeling in "A Raisin in the Sun" is that of desperation. When Ruth discovers that she is pregnant, she decides to get an abortion.



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