Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun” tells the story of the Youngers, an impoverished African-American family in the 1940s who all have dreams they want to fulfill. Unfortunately, their economic situation and the prevailing racism of the time prevent them from pursuing these aspirations. However, with the insurance money received following “Big Walter’s” demise, they are presented with an opportunity to overcome these hindrances and realize their dreams. A character who embodies this deferred dream is Beneatha.
Beneatha’s dream is to become a doctor and she faces challenges in finding her identity as an educated black woman. As a college student, Beneatha stands out as the most educated member of the Younger family. Her education holds great significance for her and she aspires to become a doctor in the future. Beneatha views education as a pathway to comprehension and personal fulfillment through knowledge and wisdom. It was unusual during that period to encounter a financially disadvantaged, well-educated black woman with such lofty aspirations. Beneatha takes pride in this reality and frequently showcases her intelligence to her family.
Mama, who placed great importance on her education, instructed Walter to set aside $3000 for Beneatha’s medical education. Unfortunately, it transpired that Walter had instead invested the money in his liquor store scheme and Willy absconded with all of it. This revelation crushed Beneatha and extinguished her hope entirely. Despite her discussion with Asagai in act III and the chance to relocate to a new home, it seems unlikely that Beneatha will ever witness the realization of her dream. Another notable aspiration of Beneatha’s is to establish her personal identity.
The play revolves around a character’s attempt to enhance her comprehension of her cultural identity as an African-American. Although her family has been in America for five generations, they seem disconnected from their African heritage. To restore her connection with her roots, Beneatha turns to Asagai, a Nigerian, in the hope that he can aid her in rediscovering a lost part of herself.