The work of Lorraine Hansberry ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ has received much appreciation
from its audience as a result of the comprehensive analysis of the social setting in America.
Through the themes and the characters incorporated in the play, the writer has been able to
express her thoughts on the social setting in America a century ago. The artist has expressed
racism as a big social problem in the country which has resulted in the failure of achieving
the American dream among the other problems that have been raised. The setting of the play
is a poor African-American family living in the lower side of California who is seen to face a
number of challenges in their effort to over to a better environment. The movement is the
dream that has been running in the family and through the struggles as a family, they finally
manage to move to a better neighborhood. The following discussion is, therefore, an analysis
of the play ‘A Raisin in the Sun' in relation to the racial and other social problems to the
activities brought about in the play.
First and foremost, the play ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ relates to the dream deferred where
the play brings about the various dreams of the characters that have been presented in the
play. It seems to ask the question of what will happen to any dream that is deferred. “Will it
dry up like the raisins in the raisin in the sun?” The American dream ideally refers to the
equal opportunities offered to all Americans without consideration of ethnicity race, culture
or religion to enable them to achieve their highest goals and aspirations. The play shows how
the individuals are all trying to achieve the American dreams but due to their race, they are
not able to achieve them. The author Hansberry has used the symbolism of the plant that
mama has to show how the African Americans in the play do not have the best opportunities
to achieve their dreams. Mama complains that the plant is not able to get enough sunlight,
otherwise, it would have blossomed. He also has to take it to the window every time so that
the plant can be able to get the opportunity to flourish like the rest of the plants. The idea of
the plant and the sunlight can be equated to the social and economic factors that have made
the path to achieving the dreams longer for each of the younger’s family. Lena younger who
is the mother to the family has a dream of moving from the current environment to a better
house where she could have a space to make a plantation. This is a dream which she had had
for a long time with her late husband. She hopes that with time, she might move to a better
house where the plant that represents her life symbolically will not have many struggles.
Walter, on the other hand, has a dream of making the best conditions for his family all in the
effort of achieving the American dream. Despite the harsh social conditions such as racial
factors, he is determined to achieve the dream for the sake of his family. The younger
daughter, on the other hand, has a big academic dream of being a physician. The dream,
however, is challenged by the financial ability of her family. In addition, she plans to take a
different channel from her family who are all employed to serve for the white folks. She is
more concerned with the social functionalities and tries to understand the African-America
social system even to the point of dating an African-American and an African and learning
from both situations.
Mama main dream is to own a house in a better neighborhood. However, the dream is
faced with a number of obstacles, most of which stem from the fact that she is an African
American lady with an African American family. For instance, the stereotype that the white
people in the neighborhood have about African Americans. The white people in that area felt
that the black people were intellectually inferior and violent. Due to that the African
American was therefore, not supposed to be in that neighborhood. In fact, they also go ahead
and try to stop them from having the opportunity to live in that neighborhood. The scenario is
amplified by the visitation of Lindner which represents the racial problem in the shifting of
the younger family to the white neighborhood where there is no big population of the colored
people. It is disturbing that the man visits them with the aim of discouraging their shift to the
neighborhood. Lindner seems to be less violent and does not express himself as a racist.
However, his utterances that he prefers to live in a neighborhood run by whites only raises
the question of where the living conditions are connected to the possessions or the ethnic
belonging. Lindner is the chairman of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association and is
willing to Mama (Lena) and tries to bribe them so that they do not move into the
neighborhood. Mr. Lindner says to Mama “Our association is prepared, through the
collection of our people, to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family” (118).
It is easy for a reader to confuse the chairman’s voice and words as a good thing. However,
he is an individual who has shown racism in the loudest and clearest voice. The message is
this is a white neighborhood that does not welcome the African American. Despite the racial
challenges, the family as a unit is able to acquire the intended dreams.
Throughout the play, it is clear that identity conflict by Beneatha has been brought
about by racism. Also, racism has steered the problem of the white neighborhood where the
younger family has shifted. Racism has also hindered Walter from achieving his ultimate
dream through the job discrimination in society. In the first instance of Beneatha, she has
been raised from a background of a problematic family with their father has passed away and
left her under the care of her mother and her big brother. As she grows, she is determined to
engage in further education in the field of medicine. She, therefore, understands that the
money from the insurance company can help her to achieve her academic dream. However,
there are other members of the family who requires the same money to achieve their plans.
The limitation of resources seemed to defer her dreams but the ultimate dream of the family
which is to move to a new neighborhood has to be achieved through the same money.
Through this character, much of the racism aspects has not been brought about but has helped
the other characters to express the theme. Lessons from her social life have led her to
intervention as she tries to understand her actual identity. In addition, her experiences lead
her to an understanding mission about where she belongs as she faces and watches the racial
profiling in her society.
From all the discussions racial identity plays as a very significant role in how all the
characters are able to identify the race and work around to achieve their dreams. Walter white
racial identity realization can be shown when he believes that his race is the root of all his
problems because of the lack of opportunities. He is a chauffeur who works and spends all
day driving the white folks around town and fancy places. He is jealous when he is able to
identify his white age mates just sitting around the fancy places smiling and talking all about
the money that they have. He is jealous that the whites are able to easily afford the high
standards of living. At that moment, his realization of his African American race takes all the
blame. He feels that if he was born white achieving that dream would have been easier.
Hansberry used of setting in this situation brings out the theme of racial identity in an
accurate approach that allows the readers to relate to the struggles that the characters go
The above discussion has explained how racism, as well as the economic challenges,
have affected the choices and actions made in the play. Once she received the money Mama
did not think of anything but to move his family to a better neighborhood full fill her dreams.
On the other hand, Walter White acts childish when he gives out all his money to secure the
liquor score which he believed will help him better provide for his family. There has been an
effective use of the characters in the expression of the various themes such as racism. The
discussion has highlighted the incidences that involve racism and economic challenges on the
younger family in the pursuit of achieving their individual dreams and following the
American Dream. The Author Hansberry has accurately addressed and showed the role of
racial identity. Additionally, it portrays how the black community lost in this race of races.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the sun. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2007.