The chasing of a mirage is a futile quest where an individual chases an imaginary image that he or she wants to capture. The goal of this impossible quest is in sight, but it is unattainable. Even with the knowledge that failure is inevitable, people still dream of catching a mirage. There is a fine line that separates those who are oblivious to this fact, and to those who are aware and accept this knowledge. The people who are oblivious represent those who are ignorant of the fact that their dream will be deferred. This denial is the core of the concept used in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. The perception of the American Dream is one that is highly subjective, but every individual dream ends in its own deferment.
During the 1960s, the African-American people were in racial situations due to their “lowered status”. They had no control over the strong beliefs in segregation, which “is characterized by a mixture of hope and despair.” (Nordholt) African-Americans, like normal people, had strived to achieve set goals. Unfortunately, their ethnicity was what inhibited them from accomplishing their dreams. In Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, the author conveys the theme of the seemingly trivial efforts of the African-American people in their individual pursuits for a satisfactory life lead each person down a road of self-discovery that reveals an indefinite amount of truths, which transform their promising hopes into unachievable fantasies. By using powerful characterization, Hansberry creates characters with contrasting personalities dividing their familial hopes into different dreams. With the use of symbolism, each character’s road is shown to inevitably end in a state where dreams are deferred.
The preface of the book starts with an excerpt from Langston Hughes’s poem, “Harlem”. This poem poses the question, “What happens to a dream deferred?”(Hughes) Then it asks if this “dream” will “dry up like a raisin in the sun”, or “will it explode?” (Hughes). Throughout the text, Hansberry has each character fail in their quest for a better life one by one. Like the poem, the people then dry up and accept their deferred dream, or they explode with multiple waves of anger and frustration. For example, Walter wants to achieve his dream of being wealthy and owning a liquor store. When he gathers a large sum of money (including a portion of Beneatha’s money), he is tricked into bankruptcy. This trickery leads him to explode, but like a raisin in the sun, he eventually takes the heat and accepts his wrongdoing. His individual journey is a significant allusion to Hughes’s poem, “Harlem”.
The “raisin in the sun” allusion could also represent the “drying up of hope (like a raisin in the sun)” (Brown). When Beneatha goes bankrupt because of Walter, she explodes emotionally. She refuses to believe what Walter has done. After years of harsh labor and income, the explosion emits emotions of pain, terror, anger, and frustration. ...