The title ‘A Raisin In The Sun’ comes from a poem written by Langston Hughes about dreams deferred. Similar to the stereotypical American dream in the 1950’s, all characters that are of the Younger family except Travis have unfulfilled materialistic dreams. In the beginning of the play, the personification of the furniture which is described as “tired” and also said to be decorated with ‘hope’ which evokes the furniture being a symbol for the unfulfilled dreams of the characters. Moreover, we are informed that “the sole natural light the family may enjoy in the course of a day is only that which fights its way through the little window”. The fact that there is very little light coming into the house can be interpreted as a symbol for the very little hope for the family but can be interpreted as a symbol of a brighter future yet to come for the Youngers. Lorriane deliberately creates the family name “Younger” which has connotations of inferiority in order to emphasize on the oppression and black exclusion the family face in the play.
The title ‘A Raisin In The Sun’ is directly related to Walter Younger’s dream of owning a liquor store which would then make him the breadwinner of the family. This dream however, is dependent on his father’s insurance money which ‘belongs to mama’. In the beginning of the play, the author portrays Walter as a man of a puerile nature which is manifests in the beginning of Act 1 scene 1 when Ruth wakes him and Travis up. Her yelling “It’s seven thirty! Lemme see you do some waking up in there now” in a similar way that she speaks to Travis suggests that Walter is infantile and is therefore treated like such. However, this could also be read as Ruth simply performing the stereotypical wifely duties of a 1950s housewife by looking after her husband. In addition, throughout the play, Walter is ridiculed about his childish ways by Beneatha who blatantly refers to him as a ‘nut’. Additionally, in Act 1, the stage directions of Ruth such as “sadly, but gaining in power” are suggestive of her being the dominant half of the relationship thus making Walter feel demusculated. It is also suggested that he feels deprived of sufficient support from the ‘coloured women’ in his family when he says ‘Nobody in this house is ever going to understand me.” Lastly, in the final scene of the play, the protagonist finally becomes a man when he speaks out against Mr Linder who represents racism, Walter saying: “we have decided to move into our house because my father—my father—he earned it for us brick by brick… And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money” showing his pride and assertiveness (characteristics of a good man). In contrast to the previous scenes where he was very self-centered with his dream, he shifts his priorities by deciding to do what would benefit the whole family.
Beneatha’s character is a representation of the unconventional 1950’s woman as she is an educated, ambitious and assertive young woman which is a diversion from what would have been the societal norm during the time that play was written. This is further evident when she reveals her atheist views when she says “God is just one idea that I don’t accept… I get tired of Him getting credit for all the things the human race achieves”. The humanism reflected in this quote is in contrast to the religious beliefs of typical 1950’s woman who would have been brought up by people with strong Christian views from a generation of slaves and sharecroppers much like Mama was. However, Beneatha is given a name which connotes her being beneath regardless of her intellect; she remains oppressed due to black and female exclusion. Beneatha’s dream of becoming a doctor is a dream deferred like a raisin In the sun due to her living in a patriarchal Eurocentric-dominated society which oppressed females and people of colour.
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