Due Date: 11/12/13
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
Or crust and sugar over
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
This powerful poem written by Langston Hughes previews and foreshadows the entire plot and theme of the classic screenplay, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry.
After a dissection of the poem, one can notice how each of the suggestions of what happens when a dream is set aside and forgotten can be compared to one of the main characters in the story.
“Or fester like a sore...And then run?” This certain line in the poem can be compared to the actions and thoughts of Beneatha Younger, Walter’s little sister who strives to be a doctor one day. During the time period of the play, sometime around the 1950’s, it was rare for a doctor to be a woman, especially an African American woman. This invisible barrier oppressed Beneatha for years, agonizing her. She chose to ignore the probability of her wish being granted and followed her dreams, she ran.
“Or crust and sugar over...Like a syrupy sweet?” The character Mama Lena Younger, who is the mother of Walter, is an old and kindhearted religious woman who has been through a lot of pain and hardship, who still manages to hold a twinkle in her eye.
Instead of taking her pain and sadness from discrimination and easily transforming it into hatred of Whites, she shapes it into generosity and pride.
“Maybe it just sags...Like a heavy load.” Walter’s wife, Ruth Younger is a hardworking woman who is a full time loving mother and spouse. Her entire life she has worked for honor and happiness, even when the sunrise seems far off. The oppression has weighed down on her and sometimes it is hard for her to keep her head up. Perhaps, one day, everything will be simple and alright, like she has always dreamed her life would be.
“Or does it explode?” The most powerful line in the poem is referring to the protagonist of the screenplay, Walter Lee Younger. Walter is a tough, but innocent man who means well with everything he does. He may just be the definition of a dreamer, but not everyone who dreams witnesses their dreams come true. Just like every other Younger
adult (oxymoron not intended), Walter has been through pain and deniance, because of the color of his skin. It is never easy to keep the agony of a hard life bottled up inside, which is why Walter sometimes accidentally lets his anger loose onto his loved ones.
Mama Lena Younger is a loving old woman who is the roundest character in A Raisin in the Sun. She is very religious with everything she does: “Can’’t you give people a
Christian greeting before you start asking about money?” Mama even slaps her daughter across the face when she doesn’t acknowledge the existence of God. She is proud of her children: “He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain…” She is these things and many more, which is why she is the roundest character. The flattest character in A Raisin in the Sun is a character who we don’t hear or see much of is one of Walter’s business partners, Bobo. There isn’t much to Bobo other than the fact that he is a simple pitiful man who got played by Willy Harris just like Walter did.
“(Dumbly, taking off his hat) Yes h’you, Miss Ruth.” He seems innocent and maybe a little slow.