Pursuing a dream is a long and complex journey, and the more difficult it is, the greater despair grips the wanderers once they realise that their dream will never come true. Realizing that one’s dream has been deferred is, however, a much greater challenge, since it presupposes that more efforts must be made to finally reach it. Despite the seeming difference in genre, stylistic choices, characters and settings, the novel Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry and Langston Hughes’ poem A Dream Deferred have a lot in common; in fact, one may claim that the former is the logical continuation of the latter, the response to the question that the poet leaves unanswered in the end of his creation.
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Apart from the obvious similarities in their subject matter, the two literature works also share a rather unique connection. Not only does the novel expand on the problem of losing a dream, much like the poem – or deferring it, as Hughes puts it, – but also seem to develop the original argument started in A Dream Deferred. In addition, the characters in both the novel and the poem share certain similarities. For example, the lead character of the poem seems completely lost, feeling deep regret, which the “heavy load” (Hughes line 9) points at. The novel characters, in their turn, are also both desperate and devastated: “those who see the changes – who dream, who will not give up – are called idealists… and those who see only the circle – we call them the “realists”” (Hansberry 565).
Although the similarities between the two literature pieces already become obvious after a small comparison, it will be reasonable to consider the stylistic choices made by the two authors in order to prove the point once again. First and foremost, the use of similes must be mentioned. Indeed, a single glance at Raisin in the Sun and A Dream Deferred is enough to notice that the two, especially the poem, are literally filled with similes, which, understandably enough, expand on the same issue of postponing the dreams coming true. In A Dream Deferred, the stylistic device clearly serves a very particular purpose; the deferred dream “dry up/like a raisin in the sun” (Hughes line 2–3).
In Raisin in the Sun, on the contrary, similes are not that explicit, which is quite understandable – being a slightly different type of medium, a novel is not supposed to be shoving the author’s ideas in the reader’s face. Nevertheless, Hansberry also uses comparison in a rather obvious manner, thus, contributing to the development of the topic. It is remarkable that, though also commenting on the issue of losing in one’s fight for the dream, Hansberry also manages to tie in a number of other issues, such as the problem of disintegration of the African American community, the issue of poverty among African Americans, family integrity, etc.: “Me and Ruth done made some sacrifices for you– why can’t you do something for the family?” (Hansberry 497). Thus, by contemplating on the many aspects of the issue, Hansberry expands the topic and at the same time narrows it down to very particular concerns of a specific part of the American society.
It is also remarkable that, in contrast to the novel, the poem operates with vivid and memorable visual elements for the key message to be conveyed to the reader efficiently: “Does it stink like rotten meat?” (Hughes line 5). The descriptions included in this poem stir a variety of visuals in front of the audience immediately, whereas the author of the novel prefers appealing to the readers’ curiosity for the interactions between the characters. Raisin in the Sun explores the phenomenon of dreams by using graphic and memorable examples and disclosing the characters’ emotions in numerous dialogues. The choice of the genre, therefore, allows for showing the characters’ growth, as well as their attitude towards the situation that they are stuck in: “Man say to his woman I: got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs” (Hansberry 494).
Though the mash of comedy and tragedy that Hansberry turns her work into can hardly be called original, the fact that she decides to reveal the emotions of people losing their dream despite their huge efforts through interactions between the characters is quite unique and enticing.
While considering that A Dream Deferred and Raisin in the Sun are devoted to the same issue would be quite a stretch – after all, each tackle a series of life questions that are not quite related; yet, despite their differences, the two pieces address the same issue of emptiness that arises once the dream has been “cancelled.” More importantly, both works suggest the ways to handle this issue, though the novel clearly expands longer on the issue of facing the notorious emptiness inside. Two works of literature that are technically completely different yet touch upon the same issue and still remain topical, Raisin in the Sun and A Dream Deferred are clearly some of the best specimens of American literature are worth being called true classics.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. n. d. Web.
Hughes, Langston. A Dream Deferred. 1996. Web.