A Raisin in the Sun and the American dream - a good topic for an essay

A Raisin In the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry's play about a black family in 1959 Chicago, is all about aspirations. Named from a line in Langston Hughes' poem A Dream Deferred, it focuses on the different dreams of each member of the Younger family as they discuss what they can do with a $10,000 life insurance payment.

This theme of aspiration makes a tempting match with the concept of the American dream - the idea that anyone can do well for themselves if they work hard. If you're thinking about writing an essay on the play it probably seems like a tempting subject to choose. Does it actually work as a concept?

The family consists of Mama, the devoutly Christian matriarch; her son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth and son Travis; and Beneatha, her daughter. All have their own plans which could be called the American dream. Mama, with Ruth's support, wants to move out of their apartment and into a house in a better area. Walter wants to become wealthy and plans to do so by investing in a business with his friend Willie (who never actually appears in the play.) Beneatha wants to go to medical school.

All of these are typical aspirations, but because the Youngers are black there are racial aspirations involved, too. Walter admires Beneatha's suitor George, who is fully Americanised and denies his African origins; he believes that to be successful he must also assimilate. Mama and Ruth appear ambivalent; Mama eventually buys a house in an all-white suburb, but mainly because it's cheaper than the all-black neighbourhood she looked at. Beneatha on the other hand rejects the idea of integrating with white America and attempts to find her identity in Africa. Despite this she straightens her hair, until persuaded not to by a Nigerian boyfriend.

The Youngers have aspirations, but there are obstacles to fulfilling them. When Mama buys the house the local residents' association tries to pay them to live elsewhere because they don't want black neighbours. Walter is poorly educated, which George mocks him for. Beneatha is torn between the culture she lives in and the one she identifies with.

For all these reasons, A Raisin in the Sun is an ideal work to discuss in terms of the American dream. It shows how the admirable idea that everyone can achieve their ambitions if they work doesn't always stand up in the face of real life, and how people can redeem themselves - as George does when he refuses the buyout offer - through moral courage.


Academic editing

High school, college and university papers are hard to write. However, having the time and knowledge to write the essay does not save you from the need to edit and proofread it once you are done with the draft. This resource will help you polish your academic work.

Business editing

You have finished your academic career years ago and are currently working in business sphere. You still need to write memos, reports, conduct research, build presentations and present speeches for your job. Learn how to edit and proofread your business writing with our help.

We write about

  • 5 paragraph essays
  • College research papers
  • University term papers
  • Graduate thesis work
  • MBA projects
  • Dissertations

Terms of use

Using our writing and editing resource is totally free. You can copy the information found on this website, print it and distribute it for any noncommercial purpose. If you would like to post our guides and manuals on your blog or website, please do not forget to link to us. Enjoy the best free editing help online.

On the web

Need professional essay help? Buy custom written papers online

Looking for excellent essay writing guide? Read basic homework writing guide to write a good essay.

Get writing assistance for less! Try to complete your academic and business writings.

Readers feedback

A great college resource!

I was impressed by the amount of editing guides and writing samples this website offers. What really struck was the fact that I could use all these valuable information for free. No monthly fees, no registration payment - I just read the posts written by their writers and print them so that I could edit and proofread my essays. Thank you so much!

Helped me get an A+

I was about to use a custom editing service but decided to look for something free before I proceed with the payment. To my greatest surprise (and perhaps luck), I stumbled upon Editorial Veramar websites. I had to write a literature review for my composition class and had the paper ready but wasn't sure I would get an A, since my writing is far from perfect. I found a great manual for editing research papers and used the proposed step-by-step instructions. Guess what? I've received an A+!

All students should use this site

All I can say is WOW. I've read several posts from this blog and I can clearly see they are written by academic experts. It seems you guys know exactly how a struggling students feels when he or she cannot finish this nasty college paper. Ever since I found you, I've been using your help for my college papers. You rock!