In her title for the play, A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry makes an apparent reference to the poem Dreams by Langston Hughes. In most printed editions of the play, an excerpt from this play is used to set the tome of the play, and foreshadow the upcoming action in the play.
Certainly. The theme of deferred dreams becomes important in A Raisin in the Sun, as we see each of the characters essentially set their dreams aside for the overarching dream that they all seem to shareùthat of owning a house.
Hansberry uses symbolism as a rhetorical device to convey the dream motif throughout the play. This discussion will explore the symbols that Hansberry uses in order to develop this theme.
The most apparent symbol in the play is Mama's plant. It is the first thing that she tends to in the opening of the play, and continues to care for it throughout. The audience gets the feeling through the narrative that Mama has been taking care of this plant for quite a long while. It serves a dual purpose. On one hand, the audience is aware that Mama has always wanted a garden. In her tiny apartment building in the south side of Chicago, this is of course, not a possibility. The most she can grow is this plantùand it doesn't seem to be faring all that well. So, to this end the plant symbolizes something natural being forced to thrive in unnatural conditionsùthat is, a plant that should be growing outdoors, being forced to grow in the tiny apartment building that the family shares. This is much in the same way that the dreams of the Youngers are forced to attempt to thrive in their own unnatural environment.
On the other hand, the plant symbolizes