How A Raisin in the Sun Relates to the Poem Harlem
The play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry draws the title from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes. Hansberry includes the poem in the epigraph of the play to reflect on the overall theme of the play. Both works focus on the effects of racism on African Americans. In both literary works, the authors do not just point to the existence of racism but further show its practical effects. The main reason why Hansberry chose the line from Hughes’ poem as the title of her work is because it acquires a symbolic meaning of “a raisin in the sun” in the play and relates to the main idea of Hughes’ poem.
The title of the play is drawn from the third line of the poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?” (1-3) . Although there is no mentioning of a raisin in the play, the title stands for the dreams of the characters of the play, namely “deferred.” In conceptualizing her play, Hansberry was inspired by Hughes’ insight on the turn of events in the life of most African Americans. In the poem, the central question is what happens to a deferred dreams, which basically questions what happens when harbored dreams become illusions.