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.
A Raisin in the Sun Themes and symbols by Lorraine Hansberry
LIFE INSURANCE MONEY
Mama's little plant is a joke in the family, but to her, it represents that possibility of sunlight and happiness one day. It is the American Dream; a house of her own with a yard of her own, where her grandchildren can grow up having more than she had. It is also the hope that she has for her family to come together.
Beneatha’s hair reflects her struggle with identity. When Asagai teases her about "mutilating" her hair, Beneatha sees a change that can allow her to understand, define, and set herself apart from what she sees as an African culture that has been forced to assimilate to American society.
The Money represents the Younger family's hopes and dreams. Walter’s dream of financial independence; Mama’s dream of owning something real; Beneatha’s dream of medical school; and Ruth’s dream of a family where her children can grow and flourish. The money also represents of the death of Big Walter, who will never realize his own dreams.