In class we briefly discussed the concept that every character in A Raisin in the Sun has a dream that needs to be fulfilled and “roadblock” that is holding them back from accomplishing that dream. In this creative/reflective post, I am going to elaborate on this thought, give opinions, and apply it to the idea of the American Dream in relation to Death of a Salesman. In this process I will refer to each character by a number and have you guess which character this relates to. At the end of the post I will reveal which character applies to each description.
Character number one is assertive in their words and actions, they are very political in their thinking and they do not care who knows it. They are determined, strong-willed, and different in their own way. They have a dream to be something great and reach their full potential in life. Even though finances could potentially hold them back, their self-determination keeps them going each day. Their roadblock is internal but portrayed as external because of their liberal views. Who is this character?
Character number two is oblivious to the reality of what is going on. All of the other characters try their best to hide their problems from this character. Some characters feel that discipline will shape them into becoming something great and others feel it is necessary to spoil him/her. Despite the differences in views of discipline, each character in the story truly wants what is best for him/her. This character has a dream of being exactly like someone they are close to; they want to follow in their footsteps. The roadblock of this character is more psychological because they are younger and does not know what their future holds. What character does this description sound like?
Character number three is gentle but firm with their words rather than their actions. They get caught up in a jam that they don’t quite know how to get out of. They want what is best for the entire family but could potentially put themselves in danger by doing this. This character is the level headed one of the household but is not the actual head of the house. Their dream is to live in a house that they can call home; one that does not fall apart at the seams. They have two separate roadblocks getting in the way of fulfilling their dream. One is the internal conflict of trying to make a big decision regarding the family and the other is external because of the family’s financial state that constantly holds them back from living properly. Which character am I referring to?
Character number four has to assume the responsibility of head of the household up until act two. They are well along in age and have control over the insurance money the family receives in the mail. This character is calm and has experience living life. The symbolism that always relates to character four is that of a plant. The dream of this character lies within; it is a dream to satisfy the needs of the family and to provide for their well-being. Their roadblock is internal considering he/she has lost someone dear to them who always knew what to do in time of crisis; this character admired and respected the ideas and values of the one who is deceased. Now, this character has to be the one to pass on the love and support the other characters. Who is it?
Characters number five and six are polar opposites of each other. Character number five is sophisticated, educated, and has a bright future ahead of him/her. Character number six is driven, frustrated, and care-free. In act two of A Raisin when character number five is introduced, character number six immediately bashes on him/her. There is tense banter that happens between the two of them for a brief moment. Character five is level-headed, while character six appears to have lost their mind. Character five has a dream to study simply for the outcome; they do not care about the politics of it all. Character six has a dream to be heard and supported. Five has a roadblock of being surrounded by people (one woman in particular) that bombards him/her with logistics. Six has a roadblock of being put down internally (unintentionally) by other family members; this affects their psychological state. What two characters come to mind while reading this description?
The last character (character number seven) is the most unique of them all. They have different views than the rest only because they are more in touch with their culture. It would be easy to assume that this character could easily fall into the footsteps of Marcus Garvey and his back to Africa movement. This character is secure in their culture and is able to travel to different areas to expand their knowledge on the magnificence of life. This character believes in the natural beauty and allowing everything to fall into order. Although this characters dream is not revealed to the audience, we can easily assume that their dream is to restore the natural order of the world and separate each people group by culture. Character number sevens roadblock is external because the world is forever changing and it is going to take more than one person to stop it. Who is this character?
The American Dream for the characters in A Raisin in the Sun is similar to those of the cast of Death of a Salesman. We can see beyond the racial factors and focus on the idea that money is everything in both circumstances. Just as Willy needed money to support his family, Walter needs money in order to feel desirable and maintain his role as head of the household. The main male characters in both of the stories want what is best for their families, especially their sons, and will do anything in order to get it. I have not finished reading through Act 3 of A Raisin so it will be interesting to see if Walter has a similar demise to that of Willy. Everyone wants to achieve the idea of the American Dream, to what extent will each person go to get it?
Character 1 – Beneatha Younger
Character 2 – Travis Younger
Character 3 –Ruth Younger
Character 4 - Lena Younger (Mama)
Character 5 – George Murchinson
Character 6 – Walter Lee Younger
Character 7 – Joseph Asagai