Chasing the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun
A Raisin in the Sun is a play about an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. This family is going through many struggles, both within the family and financially. The family is awaiting an insurance check. The story focuses on the individual dreams of each family member and what they want to do with the money. The family struggles to mend their family issues along with deciding what they will do with the money. This play shows a family trying to achieve the American dream. Although the American dream has changed slightly since this time period, readers can relate to the family's dreams and aspirations.
Lena Younger is referred to as Mama throughout the story. The check that is coming is due to the passing of her husband. Mama suggests buying a house with the money and moving to a better part of town. Walter Lee Younger is Mama’s son. Walter is the protagonist of the play. Walter dreams of a better life for himself and his family. He hopes to someday live as equal to the wealthy white men. He would like to invest the money in business, specifically in a new liquor store venture. His wife, Ruth, is the caretaker of the home. She is a strong woman and is striving to keep her family together. Beneatha Younger is Walter’s sister. She dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor. In this time the idea of a woman doctor was not heard or, let alone an African-American woman.
The family faces diversity together and all have different dreams of how to overcome it. The common thread between each family member’s ideas is that they are all chasing after the American dream. James Truslow Adams first defined the American dream in his book The Epic of America which was written in 1931. He stated that the American dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement “(The American Dream").” Just as many families were at this time, the Younger family was trying to find a richer and fuller life for themselves. This dream was for African Americans and Whites to be equal. The 2014 American dream is defined as “The belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone("American Dream"). Although the definition of the American dream has slightly changed over the years, the idea of a better life being possible has stayed the same. Both definitions imply that the American dream is achieved through making sacrifices, taking risks and hard work, not merely by chance. Although racism and segregation are not as prominent issue as they were in the past, traces of these issues still exist today.
In the play, Mama decided to put a down payment on a house for the whole family. Mama believes believes that a bigger house will not only bring...