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A Raisin in theSsun is an American play by Lorraine Hansberry. Its title comes from the poem that goes by the name “Harlem” by Langston Hughes. In the play, there is a black family that lives in Chicago. The play is about their experiences. There are various characters in the play whose dreams get deferred. This means that their dreams have to wait for another time in the future, or they have been utterly shattered. Although there are several characters whose dreams get deferred, this essay is mainly going to focus on Walter. He is the character whose dreams are the most evident as well as their deferral.
Walter makes little money to support his family having to work as a limousine driver. He has dreams to become a wealthy man in the near future and be like his sister’s boyfriend, George. He also wishes to give his son an excellent education in the schools of his choice. He says, “Just tell me where you want to go to school, and you will go. Just tell me what you want to be and you will be it” (Act 2 scene 2 line 131). Walter’s Mother Lena waits for an insurance check for ten thousand shillings. After buying a house in a white-dominated neighborhood, she gives Walter the rest of the money. She gives him instructions to spare some three thousand dollars for the education of Beneatha. She believes that she can achieve her dreams through Walter. At a certain point in the play, she says, “… Big Walter used to say he would get wet right in the eyes sometimes, lean his head back… Seem like God did not see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams- But He did give us children to make them dreams seem worthwhile (Act 1 scene 1 line 206)”.
Contrary to his mother’s objections, Walter intends to invest in a liquor store along with his friend Willy. When Willy gets hold of the money, he runs away with all the cash leaving Walter with shattered dreams. He even affects the achievement of his sister’s dream. We see Beneatha saying “Well- al do- al, right? - thank everybody! And forgive me for ever wanting anything at all” (Act 1 scene 1 line 123). This was a sarcastic talk by Beneatha who believed that her dreams had been deferred due to her brother’s irresponsibility. Walter depended on that money to invest in a liquor store. He had thought that this was the liberation time for him. However, Willy runs away with the money. This only means that Walter’s dreams have to be deferred to another time in the future.
Walter seems to be having the greatest dreams compared to all the other characters. However, it seems that his dreams are always deferred to another time. He says, “I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy… Mama -look at me” (Act 1 scene 2 line 222). This shows the intensity of the dreams that Walter had for his future as well as that of his family. The realization of all these dreams gets limited by the means available for Walter. Therefore, this is a character whose dreams have been made impossible by people. He is just an embodiment of the deferral of people’s dreams in everyday life.
Therefore, the play reveals different people’s dreams, which have been shattered. Wilson is an ideal representation of these people. They represent situations which are found in real life. Most people’s dreams do not come to be realized. This is because there are many barriers on the road to dream achievement. It is an educative play which suggests that people should beware of dream killers who may render all their dreams useless.