The American dream first gained popularity in James Truslow Adam's study ‘The Epic of America.’ He believed that America was a country where people had the opportunity for self-fulfillment irrespective of where they were born or their position. In the 50s, the American dream focused on materialistic values. Earlier principles of the American dream were based on religious and spiritual values.
Over the years, millions of people, from all over the world, have moved to the United States of America with the hopes that America is the place where their dreams will come true and their goals achieved.
But over time, the concept of the phrase has changed to mean the involvement in economy and society, which leads to the people achieving prosperity. This means that every parent’s children should have the opportunity to grow up and have access to good education and career without barriers.
In recent times the conception of the American dream changed; it was a promise that every single American have a reasonable opportunity to attain success based on their definition, which could be materialistic or something else based on their efforts. (Houchschild, 1995).
"A raisin in the sun" is a 1959 play by Lorrain Hansberry. The title of her play was based on Langston Hughes' poem 'Harlem.' The poem questions a person deferring his dream. Hughes asked if a person’s postponed dreams will dry up like a raisin in the sun. A raisin in the sun focused on different individuals with diverse thoughts about their ideas of what a better life meant.
The play centered on the lives of African Americans and their struggles before the civil rights movement. Lorrain wrote the play based on her experiences as a child whose family tried to settle in a white neighborhood, and they were attacked violently by their neighbors.
The play has been labeled as a remarkable American classics. The play is considered to be a historical development symbolizing a drastic change in black consciousness. It also reflected women's rights through the actions portrayed by the female characters and how they responded to the arrogance and chauvinism of their brothers, suitors, husbands, and society.
The play centered on the Younger family and the struggles they encounter to achieve their dreams. Lena is the head of the family, but she is mostly called mama, Walter Lee is her son, and his wife is Ruth, and their son is Travis. Walter’s sister is Beneatha. The whole family lives in a segregated area in the backside of town in Chicago. Walter worked as a white man’s chauffeur, Mama and Ruth worked as maids for white women. The Younger family is overshadowed with low income, they are limited to a small apartment that is poorly maintained. The five of them lived in a small apartment, cramped up together.
Walter Lee disliked his job. He felt his job was boring, dull, and depressing. Hansberry described him as a lean and intense person. He dreams that he is going to have a better life someday, and he is waiting desperately for his father’s insurance money, and Beneatha has to remind him each day that the money does not belong to him.
He plans to invest his father’s ten thousand dollars in a liquor store. He is obsessed with the American dream based on materialistic values. Walter wants a better life for his family and a brighter future for his son. His quest for the American dream led him to be deceived by Wily his friend. Wily takes all of his money and runs away. His dream of opening a liquor store those not sit well with his mama's religious beliefs. Mama is the king of the family and the sole provider of the family, which makes her have a say in what happens in the family. This makes Walter struggle to be in control of the family.
Mama makes a mistake, which puts the family in jeopardy. She entrusts the 'head of the family' role to Walter. And because of his obsession with material things, he nearly ruins the family.
Mama is driven by her own goals and dreams. She hopes to have a bigger house with a bigger space and garden so that the whole family wouldn’t be cramped up. She is forced to face Mr. Linder, who doesn't want mama and her family to move to his white neighborhood. Mama is different from the others because she is from an older generation where she is used to being denied the finer things of life because of her color. She eventually achieves one of her dreams by buying a house. She was chasing the American dream of property.
She is very clever, and she hopes to be a doctor someday after college, but she does not have any money for tuition to help her realize her dream. She hopes she could achieve her dream through the insurance money. She dates two different men; one encourages her to go after her dream while the other scorns her.
Ruth hopes to have a better family. Her relationship with her Walter is shaking as he hardly acknowledges her. She becomes pregnant with a new baby, and she starts to contemplate having an abortion because of their poverty.
A Raisin in the Sun and the American Dream showed how a black family struggled in a world where the black audience was non-existent. They were able to move into a white neighborhood even after the loss of the ten thousand dollars insurance money. The play depicted the dreams of each member of the family and how their focus was on materialistic things rather than other things like happiness.
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