, Research Paper
Struggle for the American Dream The American Dream is what Americans want out of life. It consists of people’s family plans, career plans, and the type of lifestyle they want to live. Lorraine Hansberry wrote the play, A Raisin in the Sun, in 1958. A Raisin in the Sun provides many good examples of blacks struggling to achieve their American Dreams. The play tells of a family, the Youngers, who want the American Dream. The characters Mama, Ruth, Walter, and Beneatha all show how they attempt to fulfill their individual dreams; they struggle through racism, differing views, and money problems (respectively). Mama and Ruth both had dreams of moving out of the ghetto and moving to a better neighborhood. Mama really wanted to move out so her family could be happier. She was driven to use the insurance money from Big Walter’s death to buy a house, instead of investing it into liquor like Walter wanted to. This is shown in Mama’s Act I statement, “Well-whether they drinks it or not ain’t none of my business. But whether I go into business selling it to ‘em is, and I don’t want that on my ledger this late in life” (p.42). Ruth was split between wanting to move out or to invest the money like Walter wanted to. She was very happy though when Mama announced that she had bought a house. Ruth was very open in announcing her happiness too, “Well-well!-All I can say is-if this is my time in life-MY TIME-to say goodbye then I say it loud and good, HALLELUJAH! AND GOOD-BYE MISERY I DON’T NEVER WANT TO SEE YOUR UGLY FACE AGAIN!” (p.94). Ruth really wants to get out of the ghetto because it has only provided her with misery and unhappiness, she thinks now is her time to be happy. Mama and Ruth also had to resist efforts from Mr. Linder to keep blacks from moving into Clybourne Park. Linder and the people of Clybourne Park were racist and afraid of blacks moving into and contaminating their neighborhood. After hearing what Linder has to say, the family is even more content on moving into Clybourne Park to show that they aren’t afraid. Then there is Walter and his conflict with Mama and Ruth about what to do with the money. Walter Younger’s American Dream is to be rich and live an extravagant life like the people for which he chauffeurs. He wants to use the insurance money from his dad’s death to invest in a liquor store in Springfield. Willy Harris, Bobo, and Walter all plan on investing ten thousand dollars each into the store. Walter and Mama have differing views about what to do with the money because he wants to invest in liquor instead of buying the house. Mama is dead set against the whole liquor store idea. This is shown in Act II when she says, ” there ain’t gonna be no investing in no liquor stores” (p.70). This leaves Walter very unhappy because his dreams have been crushed, “So you butchered up a dream of mine-you-who always talking ’bout your children’s dreams ” (p.95). Mama refused to even listen to Walter’s idea, she wouldn’t have him talking about investing in liquor in her “house”. After they buy the house for thirty-five hundred dollars, Mama trusts Walter to take the rest to the bank for him and Beneatha to split. She talks to him one night about how he’s the man of the house and should have more say in how things are done. She tells him to take the remaining sixty-five hundred to the bank and put it in separate accounts for him and Beneatha. Instead of going to the bank like he was supposed to, Walter used the remaining sixty-five hundred dollars to invest in the store. He finds out later that Willy ran off with all the money, and there is none left. Beneatha is speechless when she finds out all their money is gone. Mama is very mad at him, especially since he broke her trust. This causes the family to rethink the idea of buying a house because they don’t have any other money now that Walter lost it.
Beneatha’s American Dream is to go to school and become a doctor after college. When she was younger, she and her friends used to go sledding down the ice-covered stone steps of people’s houses. One day her friend, Rufus, split his face open on the sidewalk and had to go to the hospital. The next day the doctors had fixed him all up. This event is what inspired Beneatha to become a doctor when she grew up. This is shown in an Act II conversation with Agasai, “I always thought it was the one concrete thing in the world that a human being could do. Fix up the sick ” (p. 133). After Willy Harris steals their money, she begins to stop caring. Beneatha starts thinking that her dream wasn’t deep enough and that it was a child’s way of seeing life. The play, A Raisin in the Sun, is a good source of examples of blacks not accomplishing their dreams. In the play, the Younger family struggles to achieve the American Dream. Mama and Ruth fight off racism from the people of Clybourne Park although they do eventually fulfill their dream of moving into a house. Walter and Bennie struggled with their dreams, but they didn’t fulfill them. Because of Willy Harris running off with the money, Beneatha didn’t have money to enroll into medical school and pursue a career in the medical field. It has now been forty years since the time of the play and most African Americans are still struggling to achieve the American Dreams of freedom and equality. Unfortunately, there are still people like Mr. Linder that are racist and that think they are superior to blacks because they are white.
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