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Essay on Unfulfilled Dreams in Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun

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What happens to a dream when it suspends in time? Does it stay suspended within a man through his lifetime, dormant, unreachable, and far away? Does its power grow and ultimately force him to act to make it happen sometime in the future-if not in his lifetime then in the future members of his kin? On the other hand, does it eat away at him, crystallizing and internally segmenting his own derived purpose and meaning of life until it is indiscernible from its original state of grandeur and grace? Those are some of the questions that Lorraine Hansberry poses for consideration in her play, A Raisin in the Sun. It is no accident that she chose Langston Hughes' poem as a gateway into the incredible experience of true life, living, dreaming and working for a better tomorrow as enacted and emoted by her play's characters, the Youngers. More specifically, she uses Mama Younger to echo the poem's style of thought-provocation to at least partially surmise an answer of whether dreams deferred do, in fact, dry up, crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet, or sag like a heavy load.

Langston Hughes' poem begins with a deceptively innocent question: "What happens to a dream deferred?" (Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun 1). From the opening line, the reader is left to contemplate an infinite number of possible outcomes, among them if it partially dies, if it continues to live into the next generation, if it matters what kind of dream it is, and many others. And then, suddenly, he adds to it to further focus the question and thusly to compound and raise its complexity. He asks, "Does it dry up / Like a raisin in the sun?" (Hansberry 2-3). Now, whereas the reader could initially answer the first question in whichever way he wished, he now finds him...


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...n many other ways-whether in our own or our future generations' lifetime; we just have to learn to recognize those other ways in which they so are fulfilled.

So simply, what does happen to a dream deferred? It takes on a life of its own.


Works Cited

* Hansberry, Lorainne. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.
* "Lorainne Hansberry: 1930-1965". The Black 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential African-Americans, Past and Present. Ed. Columbus Salley. USA: A Citadel Press Book, 1993. 276-7.
* Marre, Diana. "Lorraine Hansberry: (1930-1965): Playwright, Activist." Notable Black American Women. Ed. Jessie Carney Smith. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992. 453-4.
* Robinson, V. Roberts and M. S. Barranger. "Hansberry, Lorraine Vivian: (1930-1965)". Ed. Darlene Clark Hine. Black Women In America. New York: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1993. 527-8.


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