A Raisin in the Sun

A Dream Deferred: An Analysis of "A Raisin in the Sun" College

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? (qtd. in Hansberry 1771)

Lorraine Hansberry chooses to open her play, Raisin in the Sun, with a provocative poem by Langston Hughes. The poem foreshadows the conflict in the drama and the internal struggles of all of the main characters. The entire Younger family had to constantly contend with the obstacles that are presented by life on the Southside of Chicago. As Ralph A. Austen writes, “The term ‘bildungsroman’ (novel of ‘formation/’ ‘cultivation/’ or ‘development’) has, since the 1980s, come into wide use among critics of African…literature.” Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun can be considered a dramatic version of a bildungsroman because, although the main characters are physical adults, each of them experiences an obstacle that ironically ushers him or her into true adulthood.

Raisin in the Sun is written around a family of African Americans struggling to achieve a version of the American dream in a society where the odds are stacked against them. According to Michelle Gordon, "...

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