Divergent Routes to the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun

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Almost everyone in the United States has sought after and envisioned the American dream. In Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family’s pursuit of this dream is depicted. Each member of the family shares a common aspiration for a better future, but they each take different paths that reflect the experiences of black Americans. Walter Lee Younger represents those who are oppressed and pursue their dreams with desperate determination, characterized by recklessness and impulsiveness. Despite being the only adult male in his family, Walter does not fulfill the role as “man of house.”

Feeling emasculated, Walter was affected by his mother Lena’s dual role as the family’s foundation and household leader. This not only resulted in him lacking respect within his own home but also feeling disrespected by society. Walter’s self-esteem suffered due to extreme poverty and struggling to provide for his wife Ruth and son Travis. Even though he had some success in this endeavor, he yearned for more in life. Expressing frustration to Ruth, Walter stated, “I’m thirty-five years old; I’ve been married for eleven years, and all I have to offer our son is stories about the wealthy white people’s lifestyle” (1015). This dissatisfaction fueled Walter’s determination to escape poverty and pursue his dream of starting a business. Rather than rejecting the oppressive system, Walter fully embraced it, dismissing social commitment and placing faith in the power of money.

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Divergent Routes to the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun. (2018, Feb 01). Retrieved from


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