In Langston Hughes’ poem, the author gives us vivid examples of how dreams get lost in the weariness of everyday life. The author uses words like dry, fester, rot, and stink, to give us a picture of how something that was originally intended for good, could end up in defeat. Throughout the play, I was able to feel how each character seemed to have their dreams that fell apart as the story went on. I believe the central theme of the play has everything to do with the pain each character goes thru after losing control of the plans they had in mind. I will attempt to break down each character’s dream and how they each fell apart as the play went on.
The first character we meet is Ruth Younger. Ruth is a hardworking mother who has had a thought life up until this point. The Writer opens up describing her by saying that “she was a pretty girl, even exceptionally so, but now it is apparent that life has been little that she expected, and disappointment has already begun to hang in her face.” (Pg. 1472) This description bears a strong resemblance to the line in Harlem, “Does it dry up, like a raison in the sun?” (Line 2) We immediately are thrown into the madness of her life. She wants desperately to have a happy family and is in constant disagreement with her husband’s ideas. We see how her living arrangements have made her believe that there will never be anything better in this world for her. The saddest part is that she believes that bringing another child into this sad existence is something she cannot do. When she makes the decision to visit the abortion doctor, it immediately brought me to the final line in the poem where Hughes states “Or does it explode?” (Line 11) There had to be an explosion of desperation for a w…
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…ream was crushed and then “simply explodes” (Line 10) when her son gives the money away to a man that steals it from him. She does get redemption in the end when Walter decides not to buckle to the Welcoming Committee’s request for them to not move into the neighborhood.
In the end, we see that the poem Harlem is closely tied to the rash of disappointments that each member of the family faces. The central theme of the poem is tied directly to the family dynamic of the Youngers. Each member is too busy trying to bring happiness to the family in their own way that they forget to actually communicate with themselves in a positive way.
Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raison in the Sun.” taken from “The Norton Introduction to Literature (11th ed.) By Mays, Kelli J. (2013) New York: Norton (Pgs. 1471 – 1534)
Hughes, Lagston (1951) “Harlem, (A Dream Deffered)”