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A Raisin In The Sun By Lorraine Hansberry: A Criticism Of The American Dream Analytical Paper

1428 words - 6 pages

Due to the large number of opportunities and freedom that the American Dream supposedly offers, individuals from all walks of life have their own personal American Dream that they wish to achieve. For most people those dreams will, however, never turn into reality. Especially African Americans, they have a hard time realizing their dreams and achieving their goals in the 1950’s through the 60’s. Too many challenges that hamper the achievements of their dreams were part of their daily life and difficult to overcome in the. What adds to the hardships of black American families is a generation gap that seems to widen due to the diverging perceptions of the American Dream. Thereby, the aspirations for financial success, that were especially present among younger generations, display a far-off shot from the original paradigm of the American Dream, which used to be the pursuit of happiness, freedom, justice, and more fruitful future prospects for the coming generations. In A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, she shows that achieving one’s dream, especially the American Dream can be difficult, through characterization, conflict, and setting.
The conception of the American Dream has since long been distorted and the principals have undergone, as John E. Nestler depicts it in his essay “The American Dream”, “a metamorphosis” from the basic idea of freedom and equality to materialistic and individualistic ambitions, which would constitute “a sign of moral decay”. In A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry uses the character Walter Lee Younger to illustrate the distorted interpretation of the American dream and its consequent adverse effects. Walter grew up in a time, when money would apparently reign the world and be the center of attention and realization of all dreams. His attitude towards the achievements of his goals becomes pretty obvious when he exclaims to Mama: “I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy” (Hansberry 980). Walter Lee Younger’s dream is to fight the daily struggles with poverty and climb up the social ladder to compensate for the racial and social injustice the Youngers have to face on a daily basis. He is convinced that he can boost his family out of poverty and provide them the needed financial security by opening a liquor store for he holds the view that “open[ing] and clos[ing] car doors all day long […] ain’t no kind of job…that ain’t nothing at all” (Hansberry 980). Frustrated by his monotone job he buys into the ideology of materialism and egoism. The myth ‘from rags to riches’ seems to be innocuous, however it becomes pernicious when it turns into an apotheosis of prosperity, money, and power. In the beginning of the play, Hansberry reveals Walter’s envy for Charlie Atkin’s business that results in an annual profit of $100,000. Despite Ruth’s indication of his potential business partner’s questionable character and Mama’s dissent as related to the moral behind opening a liquor store, Walter stubbornly pursues...

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