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Dreams Deferred Essay

1256 words - 6 pages

“Life, Liberty, and Property.” A component in the Declaration of Colonial Rights, a resolution of the First Continental Congress, this phrase might have been integral to our constitution’s definition of inalienable rights. “Property” was replaced with “the pursuit of Happiness” because our founding fathers knew of the adversity that stood between the way of people and property during that time. For many generations of peoples throughout the years, property- or more of the lack of and fight for- has not been conducive towards the pursuit of happiness. The American Dream is less fulfilled sans the house with a white picket fence. Mimicking her upbringing, Lorraine Hansberry details her own ...view middle of the document...

The parallelism in A Raisin in the Sun extends beyond Hansberry’s family to anyone whose American Dream has been deferred by the lack of property rights.
Yet another prerequisite of the American Dream that is present from act one, scene one until the very end is money. Money makes it first appearance as the prominent check, critical in plot- but can see yet elsewhere, such as in George Murchison. George Murchison, also known as “That pretty, rich thing” (1.1) is only attractive to the Youngers, barring Beneatha, for his money. His defect in Beneatha's eyes is that he has given up his heritage- which is a compromise (in exchange for his wealth) that she cannot accept. Going back to the elephant in the room, is the choice associated with what to do with the money. Tim Kasser of the University of Rochester tells us that “Empirical research and organismic theories suggest that lower well being is associated with having extrinsic goals focused on rewards or praise relatively central to one's personality in comparison to intrinsic goals congruent with inherent growth tendencies” (Kasser). The financial difficulties of the Youngers make them all focused on what they want from themselves, their own part of the American Dream. The word “check” appears ten times in the play- with four of those ten times in act one, scene one. Anticipation by different characters demonstrate their selfish ideas for their own future and their newfound money. But, as we all know, the sequestering of the American Dream is not supposed to be so. “For the American Dream, according to David Potter, was a dream of "absolute equality and of universal opportunity," and an "ideal of freedom," a hope held out simultaneously to the oppressed, the persecuted, the starving and the deprived” (Fletcher). Choice, once again, has its trade offs. Universal opportunity goes out the window when being forced to pick between education, entrepreneurship, and a home is the pivotal source of conflict between the Youngers. Having one Younger’s dream fulfilled seems to mean that the others cannot have their own dream fulfilled. Hansberry crafting of this naturalistic play makes it relatable to everyone because money and where we choose to direct it is always a zero sum game.
The game does get convoluted when there is one “money” and three players. The end game is made possible through the self interest of the players. Mama makes the first move in which she wisely puts a down payment on a house, instructing Walter to take a trip to the bank and save the rest for Beneatha’s education. Walter saying “Mama ... I never . . . went to the bank at...

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