The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun

The American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun
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  • 0:03 Dreams Are Different
  • 0:28 Lena Wants a Home
  • 1:25 Beneatha Wants an Education
  • 2:07 Walter Lee Wants to be…
  • 3:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry is a play about a family in the late 1940s that struggles through poverty and racism to find the American Dream. This lesson explores their hopes and dreams.

Dreams Are Different

As the Younger family scrapes through life in search of the American Dream, they soon find that it means something a little different to each of them. The American Dream is to be successful, but how do you define success? In this lesson, we'll learn how the family in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry realizes some dreams and decides to let others go.

Lena Wants a Home

Lena is Walter Lee and Beneatha's mother. She loves her children unconditionally and supports them as much as possible. Receiving a $10,000 life insurance check after the death of her husband makes her think that all of her dreams will finally come true. Lena has always wanted a home of her own. She says, 'Well I, always wanted me a garden like I use to see sometimes at the back of the houses down home. This plant is as close as I ever got to having one.'

Walter Lee's wife, Ruth, and their young son, Travis, who has to sleep on the couch because there are not enough beds in their apartment, support and share Lena's dream of owning a home.

When Lena finds a well-built, affordable home, it's in an all-white neighborhood that does not want her there. Despite her fear in light of recent attacks on black families that move into white neighborhoods, Lena summons up her courage and pride and makes the move.

Beneatha Wants an Education

Beneatha wants to be a doctor and is in medical school. 'I'm going to be a doctor. I'm not worried about who I'm going to marry yet - if I ever get married.' She changes her mind about lots of things, like which boys she likes, whether she likes guitars or horseback riding, and hairstyles, but wanting to be a doctor is something she has been consistent about since childhood.

Her mother, Lena, supports her and sets aside a third of the insurance money to pay for Beneatha's education. Her brother, Walter Lee, thinks that she should do things like other women do, like be a nurse or get married. After Walter Lee squanders her money, she is devastated.

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