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Divergent Routes to the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun Essay

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    The American dream has been visualized and pursued by nearly everyone in this nation. Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is a play about the Younger family that strived for the American dream. The members of the Younger family shared a dream of a better tomorrow. In order to reach that dream, however, they each took different routes, which typified the routes taken by different black Americans.

Walter Lee Younger's route, which was filled with riskiness and impulsiveness, exemplified the road taken by blacks who had been oppressed so much that they followed their dreams with blind desperation. Though Walter was the only adult male in his family, he did not assume the role as "man of the house." His mother, Lena was the family's backbone as well as the head of the household. Therefore, Walter felt less than a man. Not only did Walter not have a position of dignity in his home, but he felt disrespected by the world as well. Walter didn't feel good about himself because he was so poor that he struggled to support his wife, Ruth and son, Travis. Walter, though the did not fare unsuccessfully in that struggle, our he wanted more out of life. He told Ruth:

...I'm thirty-five years old; I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room and all I got to give him is stories about how rich white people live...(1015)

Walter gained a willingness to do whatever it took to abandon poverty, and he developed a vision of opening his own business. "Walter...far from rejecting the system which is oppressing him wholeheartedly embraces it. He rejects the cause of social commitment and places his faith in the power of money." (Gunton 186) Attaining wealth became Walter's greatest concern, and he was willin...


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...s, 1986.

Draper, James P. Black Literature Criticisms. Detroit: Gale Research Incorporated, 1992.

Gunton, Sharon R. Contemporary Literary Criticisms. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981.

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. Literature and the Writing Process. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Hansberry, Lorraine.  A Raisin in the Sun.  New York:  Signet, 1988. Liukkonen, Petri. "Lorraine Hansberry." Lorraine Hansberry. Web. 11 May 2012. .


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