A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry
reviewed by Leah Rassam
A Raisin in the Sun is an insightful play by Lorraine Hansberry about the lives of a black family. The Youngers live in a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Mama has been the head of the household since her husband died. They have little money and are awaiting an inheritance check. Each of them has lost sight of the dreams they used to have. Due to their lack of hope Mama, her children, and grandchildren are unhappy. The drive to accomplish their dreams has been replaced with sadness. In the play, dreams help build up and destroy this family. Once their aspirations are forgotten so are the ideals of what family should be. Hansberry chooses a quote by Langston Hughes to embark on the theme of the play.
“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 sages like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
Each generation has their own longing to work for success. Mama wants to buy a house. Walter Lee wants to buy a liquor store and his sister Benetha wants to become a doctor. During the drama the characters have to question themselves and ask if their goals they have are what they have always dreamed of.
The check was supposed to solve everything: the pain and agony of an unhappy family, lost aspirations, and any other problems. While the money is in possession of the Youngers it helps them bring on a new life style. One where their family is living the life they had always dreamed about. Though the time with the money is short lived. When all of it cannot be found, Walter Lee and his sister finally realize what their dead father tried to teach them: dreams are important to remember because they serve as a reminder to be focused on a goal. Losing the money showed Benetha and Walter Lee that there are tough times, but how you react to them is what matters.