Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun - Dignity and the American Dream

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Dignity and the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun

    The American Dream, although different for each of us, is what we all aspire to achieve. In Lorraine Hansberry's, play, A Raisin in the Sun, each member of the Younger family desperately hopes for their own opportunity to achieve the American Dream. The American Dream to the Younger family is to own a home, but beyond that, to Walter Younger, it is to be accepted by white society.


In the book entitled " Advertising the American Dream", Roland Marchand refers to the American Dream as the belief that "if you work hard and play by the rules, then you will achieve your goals" (Marchand 1). In the play, Walter Lee Younger does not do either one of these things. Walter doesn't show up for work regularly and he certainly has no intentions of playing by the rules to get a business licenses.


Walter Lee is a man stuck in a dead end job that he sees as demeaning and he becomes desperate to free himself from the bonds of poverty, oppression and racial discrimination. Walter Lee feels that with money he can change the hegemony's view of him as a poor, stupid, black servant. The hegemony's social construction of reality about blacks as being lesser and the hegemony's ethnocentric perception of being superior, is corroborated in an article titled "The Colour Bar of Beauty" from The Peak. Cristina Rodrigues, a member of the black cultural and social activist group Olodum, says " In Brazil, nobody wants to be black because the mass media equates black with poor and stupid" (Aujla 2).


Walter has a loving relationship with his family members, but he also has a relationship that frustrates him. Walter's family frustrations are brought on by society's lack o...

... middle of paper ...

...y." The Peak. 4 May 1998: 1-5. Available:

Hansberry, Lorraine.  A Raisin in the Sun.  New York:  Signet, 1988.

Johnson, Lyndon B. "The American Promise." Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon Johnson, vol. 1 (1965), 281. 1-9.


Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream. Los Angeles, CA. University of California Press, 1985

Margolin, Michael. "Reasons in the Sun." Metro Times. 25 March 1998: 1-3.


U.S. Census Bureau. United States Government Bureau of Statistics. Available:

U.S. Federal Law. Cornell Law Resources. Available:

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