A dream deferred is a dream put off to another time, much like this essay. But unlike dreams sometimes, this essay will get fulfilled and done with. Each character from A Raisin in the Sun had a deferred dream, even little Travis although his dream was not directly stated.
Their dreams become dried up like a raisin in the sun. Not just dreams are dried up though; Walter Lee and Ruths marriage became dried up also. Their marriage was no longer of much importance, like a dream it was post-poned and it became dry. Their struggle for happiness dried up because they had to concentrate all of their energies on surviving. Their needs seem no longer to be satisfied by each other. But they both saw a resolution in the insurance check arriving in the mail. The money would let Ruth fulfill her dream of owning her own house and leaving the apartment. Walter would use the money towards his dream of owning a business and not having to work for someone. This would allow him to provide for his family. Emotionally, the stress from not having their dreams realized has left them despising each other.
Their sadness at unfulfilled dreams overlain with the burden of Ruth’s pregnancy gets out of hand when Walter says, “Who even cares about you?” The two of them realize at that time that their relationship has dwindled to nothing but nagging and rude comments. Walter may be sorry for having said that to his wife, because he probably loves her, but he is at the end of his rope. He feels that every dream he has had has been taken away from him, either by bad timing or by the white man in general. Ruth, on the other hand, has never had any other dream except to keep her family together and in working order, and now that is falling apart.
Willy Harris was what festered like a sore and then ran away. He annoyed Walter Lee for money, causing Walter Lee to do the same but to his family. Mama was tired of listening about Walter Lee wanting to invest in a liquor store. Walter Lee’s dream to own the liquor store and be his own boss caused his family much pain. A major reason being he lost all of their money in the investment. But because his family never listened to him about his dream, he would go out and drink. When Walter Lee came home drunk, most of what he had bottled up inside would lash out in a much more violent or ridiculous way. Then Willy Harris ran away with the money and dream. Walter Lees dream festered and consumed money, and then ran away. The money disappeared and so did the dream.
Walter Lees investment dream also stunk like rotten meat. Like meat, the dream was very appetizing. In Walter Lees eyes, nothing could go wrong, it was a smart investment that would definitely be profitable. Not once did the thought that Willy Harris might run away with the money ever cross his mind. Walter: Yeah. You see, this little liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand and we figured the initial investment on the place be ’bout thirty thousand, see. That be ten thousand each. Course, there’s a couple of hundred you got to pay so’s you don’t spend your life just waiting for them clowns to let your license get approved… But the dream began to rot, and lose composure. He wasted all the money and his dream became impossible.
The dream that Mama and Ruth shared was to move into a bigger and better house. Mama had shared that dream with her husband who was never able to live it out. Mama: “Rat trap” — yes, that’s all it is. I remember just as well the day me and Big Walter moved in here. Hadn’t been married but two weeks and wasn’t planning on living here no more than a year. We was going to set away, little by little, don’t you know, and buy a little place out in Morgan Park. We had even picked out the house. Looks right dumpy today. But Lord, child, you should know all the dreams I had ’bout buying that house and fixing it up and making me a little garden in the back — And didn’t none of it happen. So Mama decided to act out on that dream. She bought a house in a nice neighborhood, unfortunately a white neighborhood. But it was a good dream, she thought it would provide them with a safe home and tranquility. But this sweet dream crust and sugared over like a syrupy sweet by the white people from the neighborhood. Discrimination and hatred caused her dream to crust over.
Beneathas dream is the one that just sags like a heavy load. Beneatha comes to a realization that all that she had believed in since her youth appears now to be false. She assumed that by being a doctor, she could cure people of what ails them. She witnessed her brother’s insanity after losing the money he was to use for his family and realized that someone she did not know had also stolen the means for her education. This caused her to realize that the ailments of man are not just of a physical nature. She was forced to accept that the problems of the Younger family would persist, regardless of the means that appeared to help. She felt that all that she had hoped for since she was a child was taken away from her without her knowledge. Asagai tried to convince her that not all was lost. He tried to convince her that it was more of an opportunity for the future doctor, as she would be able to apply what she learned from the difficulties in her life as a physician with him in Nigeria. Mamas dream was another that sagged like a heavy load. As an older woman, her dream had been with her for a while. After a while, she lost the vigor that she possessed to fulfill her dream.
Walter Lee is the volcano about to explode. He does whatever he can to fulfill his dream because his dream is bubbling and needs to come out. But he is also explosive in another way. In an explosive moment, he fulfills his familys dream of having a house of their own. He stands up for his family against the Clybourne Park Improvement Association and lives up to his responsibilities. Mamas dream is also the one that explodes. She finally decided to fulfill the dream that she had had for so many years. But then she saw it threatened when Walter Lee lost all of their money and the liquor store would never bring in the money she was counting on. Her reaction was a violent one. Mama stops and looks at her son without recognition and then, quite without thinking about it, starts to beat him senselessly in the face.
Raisin in the sun refers to all of their dreams. All of their dreams start as grapes, nice and juicy. But when put to the sun and left out for a long time, it dries up. When a dream is put out to reality or put aside for a long time, it will dry up. Like a raisin in the sun is also the first simile used.
The Younger family lived in Chicagos Southside sometime between the 1950s and 1960s. They lived in the poor part of the city in a black neighborhood. They didnt experience any direct discrimination because people of their own ethnicity surrounded them. The fact that they lived in a poor part of the city helped them in their struggle to get out of there. They did not want to live in such poor conditions so they wanted to fulfill the dream of leaving. Their economical situation and ethnicity puts many more obstructions in their path to a better life and future. The Younger family had to struggle in obtaining money, find their identities, and deal with the discrimination. The discrimination they had to face in the time that this play takes place is full of hatred. The white people wanted to stay by themselves and believed that blacks were impure. The discrimination the Younger family faced was a lot worse than what they would face in the present. They would now have the support of the government, but back then they could not even count on that.
Black people were still greatly discriminated against in the time of this play. Walter Lee was a chauffeur and Mama and Ruth would do housekeeping. Walter Lee knew that he could do so much better. He wanted to become better and if he couldn’t, he wanted to be able to offer his son a better future. Their situation gave them a reason to fight for their dreams and overcome the obstacles set before them. The first major obstacle they were overcoming was leaving the apartment and moving into the house. Not only were they overcoming an economical situation, but they were also overcoming the racial barriers. They were like pioneers in a new land.
Walter wants to become somebody and achieve goals like those that white men do. But he becomes too preoccupied with money and ignores the harm he could cause. He focuses too much on becoming economically successful and forgets about the basics. Instead of going step by step, he takes a giant leap and falls.
Walters job affects his life at home greatly. If he got upset at work or had a bad day, he couldn’t show it. This would cause him to keep it bottled up and when somebody would say one wrong thing, he would burst. Walter had to deal with the knowledge that he cant provide his family with what they need. Walter: (Not listening at all or even looking at her) This morning, I was lookin in the mirror and thinking about it . . . Im thirty-five years old; I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room (very, very quietly)and all I got to gibe him is stories about how rich white people live . . .” He was only a limousine driver so he was not satisfied at all with his life. He was unhappy with his job and was desperately seeking for an opportunity to improve his family standing. He expressed these feelings when he told his mother about the liquor store. ” I open and close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, “Yes sir; no sir, very good sir; shall I take the drive, sir?” Mama, that ain’t no kind of job… that ain’t nothing at all. Mama, I don’t know if I can make you understand.” Walter could not provide for his family by American standards so they lived in poverty. The poverty they experience is noticeable in their living arrangements. They are a family of five that shared a one bedroom, dilapidated apartment, on Chicago’s south side. Living on the south side of Chicago didnt represent the American dream that Walter so desperately wanted to obtain. There weren’t any big yards or white picket fences like those that white American children were growing up with. Travis was growing up in the inner city and projects.
The situation that Walter found himself in motivated him to invest in a liquor store in order to grasp some type of financial freedom. He didnt want just to have enough money to provide for his family, but he tells his mother, “I want so many things”. He became obsessed with earning a lot of money. Walter: You wouldn’t understand yet, son, but your daddy’s gonna make a transaction — a business transaction that’s going to change our lives — That’s how come one day when you ’bout seventeen years old I’ll come home and I’ll be pretty tired, you know what I mean, after a day of conferences and secretaries getting things wrong the way they do — ’cause an executive’s life is hell, man — And I’ll put the car up on the driveway — just a plain black Chrysler, I think, with white walls — no — black tires. More elegant. Rich people don’t have to be flashy — though I’ll have to get something a little sportier for Ruth — maybe a Cadillac convertible to do her shopping in — And I’ll come up the steps to the house and the gardener will be clipping away at the hedges and he’ll say, “Good evening, Mr. Younger.” And I’ll say, “Hello, Jefferson, how are you this evening?” And I’ll go inside and Ruth will come downstairs and meet me at the door and we’ll kiss each other. . . At the beginning of the play Walter was waiting for Mama’s check from the insurance company as if it was his own, and Beneathea has to remind Walter that, “that money belongs to Mama, Walter and it is for her to decide how she wants to spend it”. Walter was corrupted by society and unlike his sister Beneatha, he didn’t even have a desire to find his identity through his African heritage. He was searching for his identity with money. Most of the time that Walter talked it was about money. When his wife Ruth mentions that his friend “Willy Harris is a good for nothing load mouth,” Walter retorts; “…And what do know about good for nothing loud mouth? Charlie Atkins was just a “good-for-nothing loud mouth” too, wasn’t he! When he wanted me to go in the dry-cleaning business with him. And now-he’s grossing a hundred thousand a year.
A hundred thousand dollars a year! You still call him a loud mouth!” The idea that he could have been making a hundred thousand dollars a year was what was bothering him the most. To Walter the liquor store is how he would achieve the financial stability he was dreaming of. The liquor store represented an opportunity for Walter to govern his own life, and to be the head of the household because he would be bringing in the money. The idea of operating his own business gave him a positive outlook for the future that was more promising that his career as a limousine driver. Walter didn’t have any education or skills, causing him to be stuck in the same routine. He was trying to break out of it by trying to attain the American Dream. But in the process he adapted the values of a wealthy society. He longed for the advantages of the rich and took up their ideas, which corrupted him. Mama: Son– how come you talk so much ’bout money? Walter: Because it is life, Mama! Mama: Oh — So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life — now it’s money. I guess the world really do change. . . Walter: No — it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it. Walter continued to be affected by the mainstream, while trying to be something that he was not. While he searched for his hopes down dead-end roads filled with liquor and expensive risks, he became the dream deferred.
Walter wanted the best for his family and he thought the liquor store would solve his problems. “I’m thirty five years old; I’ve been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in living room. He had sympathy and compassion for his son. Although his family’s financial position was strained, Walter didn’t want his son to see him struggle. Walter displayed an unselfish characteristic that was overshadowed by unwise decisions later in the play. For example, when Travis asked both parents for money. Walter acted out of pride by giving Travis his last pocket change. This showed Walter’s willingness to be a good father. The overcrowded living conditions and lack of privacy in the ghetto help make people who live there as ‘tired’ as their furnishings. Walter is like the furniture in the small apartment, ‘tired and broken in spirit’.
As Walter’s dreams became bigger and bigger, he neglected the ‘smaller’ things such as his family. “Here I am a giant surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what the giant is talking about. Walter had big ideals, but his methods of achieving his goals and ideals were somewhat foolish. He was more concerned with becoming self-employed and didnt think about the consequences, which would affect his family. Walter learned that he had to set his dreams aside for the sake of the family. He also learned that pride in him and his family were inseparable and that anything that harms one would harm the other. The play is basically about Walter Lee Young. He was passionate, ambitious, and bursting with energy and dreams. But he was also a desperate man, restrained by poverty and prejudice, and obsessed with his own sense of success. He felt success would be the end of all of his social and economic problems. Walter had to learn a lesson the hard way, pride and greed will eventually lead to unhappiness.
The themes of the play all have to do with what is learned through life experiences. The Younger family learned certain things by experiencing them. Unfortunately, these life lessons came at an expensive price to all of them.
A theme of the play is to put the familys needs first. This theme is shown with Ruth and her unborn baby. Ruth was thinking about having an abortion and had even paid a five-dollar down payment to the doctor. Her explanation to Walter was, IIm sorry about this new baby, Walter.
I guess maybe I better go on and do what I started I guess I just didnt realize how bad things was with us I guess I just didnt realize. Ruth was going to destroy the baby because she felt that she and Walter did not have enough money to support another family member. She also felt that the baby would have been brought into a world of fighting. Beneatha also had influence on Ruths decision when she asked, where is he going to live? On the roof? Beneatha felt that if Ruth had another baby the already strenuous living situation would just be complicated more. But Ruth later realized that she should not take the life of her baby and decided to keep it. She felt encouraged by the improvement in her relationship with Walter and the new spacious house. She put her unborn babys needs before her own.
Even Walter, selfish as he seemed to be, put his familys need before his own. He had lost all the money and was going to recuperate some of it by taking Mr. Lindners offer. This way they would have been able to have some money but would have had to stay in the same apartment. In the end he thought about his family and ancestors and decided to not sell the house.
Mama is best example of putting the familys needs first. She was always doing things to make her familys life less stressful and helping out in any way possible. Walter: Mama, every time we need a new pair of curtains and I have to watch you go out and work in somebodys kitchen Whenever the family needed things they could not afford, Mama would go out and clean other people kitchens. Although a woman of sixty years and having worked all her life, she continued working to help her family. The best example of Mamas unselfishness is what she did with the insurance money. Although it was her money, she used it to buy the family a new house so that Travis would have a better place to grow up. She bought something that would make the whole family happy. Afterwards, her intentions are to put aside money for Beneathas studies and the rest for Walter and his investment. She even trusted Walter with all the money so that he would deposit what belonged to Beneatha in the bank.
Mama kept none for her, all she thought about was her childrens future.
Dreams are obviously a major theme of the play. Each character had his/her own dream. But the theme did not necessarily have to do with always living out dreams. It dealt with recognizing when it was right to let go of a dream because it was causing harm. Dreams should not be chased to a point where the family can be hurt. There are times to let the dream dry up. Mama kept her dream and fulfilled it. This is shown with her plant. Her plant gave her hope. She was always searching for more sunshine for her plant, or a better life. She chased her dreams but not in an extravagant way, the way Walter did.
One scene that had a great impact on me was when Walter found out he lost the money, specifically when Mama found out. Walter didnt just lose his money but Beneathas also. Mamas first reaction was to hit Walter. Then she tells Walter about his father working all his life like an animal and Walter just gave it all away in a day. Then in despair she asks God for strength and folds over. This scene impacted me for many reasons. It was shocking to find out that Walter had not gone to the bank and deposited Beneathas money after Mama had trusted him. Walter: You trust me like that, Mama? Mamas reaction had the greatest impact on me though. She had been cool and collected throughout the play, and she finally lost it. She finally showed the pain she was feeling and let down her guard.
The other scene that impacted me the most was when Walter tells Mr. Lindner that they were moving into the house. He had called Mr. Lindner over with the intention of selling the house so they could have some money. The Youngers were well aware that they were not wanted in the white neighborhood. At this point, there is a feeling of dislike towards Walter because he had blown off all the money. So what was expected was the he would continue worrying about money and sell their dream house.
But instead he does an unexpected, honorable thing. He surprises the family by changing his mind and deciding to move into the house. I was also moved by what Mama said. SonI come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppersbut aint nobody in my family never let nobody pay em no money that was a way of telling us we wasnt fit to walk the earth. We aint never been that poor. We aint never been thatdead inside. Walter finally showed pride in his family and let go of his dream for the good of his family.
The play shows how a family had to overcome and learn lifes lessons the hard way. Through Walter, the play showed that sometimes dreams have to be let go and through Mama itshowed that sometimes dreams have to be held on to. Through Beneatha, it was shown that things arent always how they seem. The family was able to overcome a major obstacle once they united.