The Importance of the Struggle in A Raisin in the Sun
“Why do some people persist despite insurmountable obstacles, while others give up quickly or never bother to try” (Gunton 118)? A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry, is a commentary on life and our struggle to comprehend and control it. The last scene in the play between Asagai and Beneatha contrasts two contemporary views on why we keep on trying to change the future, and reaches the conclusion that, far from being a means to an end, the real meaning of life is the struggle. Whether we succeed or not, our lives are purposeful only if we have tried to make the world a better place for ourselves and others- only, in other words, if we follow our dreams.
Many self-described realists dismiss this attitude as naive and unrealistic, that finding value in the pursuit of dreams is merely a self-induced delusion. Often, this perspective is obtained after much bitter suffering for little or no apparent reason, as in the case of Beneatha Younger. Already a natural cynic due to the condition of the world into which she was born, a world where poor blacks with aspirations of something better were generally doomed, she became embittered with life when her dream of becoming a doctor was seemingly shattered. From an outside perspective, it seems obvious that she reacted poorly: the money her brother lost, after all, was not hers at all but her mother's, and how she expected to finance college without the death of her father and the insurance check that followed is unclear. What is clear, however, is that the death of her long-held aspiration had a profound effect on her. “A dream glanced from afar brings disappointment when it collapses; a dream that dies with realization almost within grasp brings despair”( Hansberry, Literature 41). Becoming a doctor was no longer a childhood goal for Beneatha; it was on the verge of becoming reality when the means for making it such evaporated. It was in this sort of mood that Beneatha formulated an idea about the sheer stupidity and cruelty of nature in general and people in specific: "Don't you see there isn't any real progress, there is only one large circle that we march in, around and around, each of us with our own little picture in front of us- our own little mirage that we think is the future"(Hansberry. Raisin). Misery and stupidity are always present: man does not seem capable of eliminating them once and for all. Their existence conspires to thwart dreams, and Beneatha decided that she was tired of the struggle, tired of deluding herself with an unworkable vision, tired of having to fight against the unchangeable facts of life- a view she might have kept, as many have, if it were not for Asagai's gentle reasoning.
For Asagai, the struggle to achieve our own views of the future was the real essence of life. His was the generation of African dreamers who passionately advocated the independence of their continent from...