Dreams are what humans see as their guides through their lives or their individual goals which they must work a lifetime for to achieve. In Langston Hughes’ poem, Dream Deferred, he asks rhetorical questions about how a withheld dream can corrupt and negatively change the mind of a man. The poem relates to the movie, “A Raisin in the Sun (2008)” by Kenny Leon, since the movie answers the rhetorical questions in the poem by showing scenes of how the dreams of Walter Lee Younger corrupted his mind and made him lose his sense of personality/humanity.

A dream that seems impossible to attain, causes obsession and corruption in one’s mind. Langston Hughes asks in his poem, “Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run? ”[Hughes 1-4] which means that a dream deferred may get corrupted (fester – meaning to become infected) and stray away from its original path (run). Living in a time of racial segregation and inequality, Walter Lee Younger is corrupted with the fact that he needed money to achieve his materialistic dream. “Money is Life! ” Walter says to his mother. A Raisin in the Sun(2008)] Walter believed that the only way to achieve his dream was to become rich by gaining profit off of investing into a liquor store. Langston Hughes states in the poem, “Maybe it sags like a heavy load,”[Hughes 8-9] which would relate to how Walter had been so obsessed with gaining money that it put forth a lot of stress within his mind as well as in the minds of his whole family. “Hell yes! I want me some damn yacht! Hell yes! I want me to put some pearls on my wife’s neck! And you tellin’ me I can’t get pearls to put on my wife’s neck? ”[A Raisin in the Sun(2008)].


At this point, Walter’s dream had become a burden to his whole family and he spent the nights intoxicating himself, and drowning himself in a dream which is impossible to achieve. This goes back to Hughes’ question of what happens to a dream deferred, and how it causes obsession and corruption within one’s mind. Unable to achieve a lifetime dream causes insanity and a loss of personality. Langston Hughes asks the reader in the end, “Or does it explode? ”[Hughes 10]. This would give off the reader the picture of a man’s dream to just overcome the person and cause insanity within the mind. Walter says, “I’m a volcano! I’m a giant surrounded by ants. Ants can’t understand what a giant’s talkin’ bout. ”[A Raisin in the Sun(2008)] At this point, Walter has completely lost faith in his own dream and has lost his mind, thinking that he is mentally superior to everyone else. Not only did Walter almost lose his mind, he almost lost his wife in the process. “Didn’t realize how bad things were between us, didn’t realize where we lost it…” as Ruth Younger said to her husband who she no longer recognizes. [A Raisin in the Sun(2008)] Langston Hughes asks in his poem if a dream deferred would “crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet”[Hughes 6-7].

This represents how a dream might be too good to be true and end up leaving a disgustingly sweet taste in the tongue (the dream biting back in the end). It was clear that Walter had lost his personality once he argued about the dreams of perspective towards George Murchison as he says to him, “And you? You don’t see any stars out there when you dreamin’. It’s coz’ you happy! ”[A Raisin in the Sun(2008)]. Walter believed that people who are happy no longer dream, that dreaming was for the poor who have nothing, when Walter himself were happy in the beginning with her beautiful wife and child.

Furthermore, Walter’s dream had completely exploded when he found out that the insurance money had been used for something else by his mother when he says, “It was your money and you did what you wanted to do with it… so you butchered up a dream of mine, you who was always talkin’ bout your children’s dreams! ”[A Raisin in the Sun(2008)]. This shows how much desperation and disappointment he had when he found out his dream was no longer in reach, and left his family, which was everything he had left. In the end, Walter’s dream had consumed him so much that he had gone insane and lost his own personality.

In conclusion, Langston Hughes’ Dream Deferred asks rhetorical questions about what happens to a long-term unachievable dream which the movie A Raisin in the Sun answers. Both the poem and the movie portrayed that the obsession of achieving a dream can cause corruption in a man’s mind, as well as insanity and the loss of one’s personality and humanity. Everyone’s dream differs, although most can be attained through money. In the end, money, which is the root of all evil, which enables one to achieve one’s dreams, means that one’s dreams can be the source of evil within us.