A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansbury, takes its title from the famous Langston Hughes poem “A Dream Deferred”, whose theme is echoed throughout the play. In a small apartment in Chicago in the 1950s, the members of the Younger family, an African American family, each have big dreams of what to do with the life insurance money they are going to receive from Big Walter’s passing. For some of the members of the family, their dreams have been put off, “deferred”, for years; for others, there are obstacles they must overcome in order to pursue their dreams. The play was well-received, and is notable as the first Broadway play written by an African American woman, and for being directed by the first African American Broadway director.
In the two poems “Dreams” and “A Dream Deferred”, Hughes focuses on the common dreams of African Americans in the early 1900s – the same dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks of in his “I Have A Dream” speech: true equality. In “Dreams”, Hughes examines the theme of the importance of not letting go of dreams, because without dreams, life is empty and broken. In “A Dream Deferred”, Hughes examines the important question of what happens when dreams get put off: do they become more powerful, as the struggle for equality did with each passing year? While Hughes wrote from a uniquely African American perspective, his poems about dreams are relatable to every American who has pursued their own American dreams.
Connecting Your Dreams - Text connections activity
WHY THIS DREAM?
OBSTACLES TO MY DREAM
HOW WILL I ACHIEVE THIS DREAM?
My name is David, and my parents are immigrants from Russia. My father is a cook at a restaurant, and my mother works in a clothing store in our neighborhood. They arrived in New York 20 years ago, and moved to be near my uncle, who lives in Boston.
One day, I would like to own my own restaurant. I love to watch my dad cook, and he has taught me a lot of things about authentic Russian cooking. I wish my dad owned the restaurant, because then he could make more of his own hours. His boss is also pretty terrible sometimes.
My friend Kevin’s dad owns a restaurant, and makes enough money to support his family well. Kevin’s father is well-respected in the area, and the food his restaurant makes is delicious. His father takes a lot of pride in his food. I would like to make enough money to take care of my mom and dad one day, because they’ve sacrificed so much to take care of me.
Some obstacles that might get in the way are not having enough money to open my own restaurant, or trouble getting a loan. I also need to make sure I get good grades so that I can go to a good culinary school when I graduate.
I will get good grades so that I can attend a very prestigious culinary institute. Then, I will work very hard and make a name for myself in the industry. When I get enough money, I will open a restaurant that has a great atmosphere, good food, and great staff. I will make sure I am a fair boss who treats my employees respectfully.