What is a Dream?

Dreaming is a form of mental activity, different from waking thought that occurs during sleep. The nature of dream activity has been characterized by many clinical and laboratory studies. These studies show that dreams are more perceptual than conceptual: things are seen and heard rather than being subjected to thought. In terms of the sense, visual experience is present in almost all dreams; auditory experience in 40 to 50 percent; and touch, taste, smell, and pain in a relatively small percentage. A considerable amount of emotion is commonly present-usually a single, stark emotion such as fear, anger, or joy rather than the modulated emotions that occur in the waking state. Most dreams are in the form of interrupted stories, made up partly of memories, with frequent shifts of scene.

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A dream is a hope, a wish, and an aspiration. People have dreams about what they want to be when they grow up and what they want their children’s future to be. Not all of these dreams come true. Even if you work really hard and put your heart into it, there is no guarantee that you will fulfill your dream. “What happens to a dream deferred” The cherry blossoms can be deferred due to a sudden freeze, and a surgery can be deferred because of complications. A deferred dream is put on the “back burner of life”, and it matures to its full potential, and is waiting when you are “ready to pursue it”. The important idea is that the deferred event, though later than hoped for, eventually comes true.

Dreams are a significant component of “A Raisin in the Sun”; the word “dream” is used a total of fourteen time throughout the play. Mama, from “A Raisin in the Sun”, experienced a “dream deferred” (Hughes). Mama’s dreams were for the happiness of her children, and a new house. She and her husband Big Walter put everything they had into getting that house “with a little garden in the back” (Hansberry). When she gets the insurance payment after her husband’s death and puts money down on a house in Clybourne Park, she is ecstatic. The dream was deferred many times. She and Big Walter simply didn’t have the money to purchase a house and move out of the apartment. “I seen him grow thin and old before he was thirty” (Hansberry). When the insurance money finally comes, more conflict arrives. Walter is furious with Mama for “butchering up his dream” (Hansberry) and when she entrusts him with the money leftover from the down payment, he is irresponsible and losses it. The white residents of Clybourne Park also attempt to defer the dream. Mr. Lindner, a representative of the residents, even offers to buy back their house for more money than they put down. Tempting, but no thanks: Her dream of home ownership seems to be dead until Mama, Ruth, Beneatha and Walter cooperate to achieve to goal.


African-Americans have also had a “dream deferred” (Hughes). Their dream was for the abolishment of segregation and the outlaw of discrimination. Slavery had come to an end with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, “but one hundred years later, the Negro is still not free” (King). “America has defaulted on this promissory note” (King). But the African-Americans refused to accept the “bad check” (King). Martin Luther King, Jr. conveyed the “urgency” (King) of the situation that had been sizzling for decades. “There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted hi citizenship rights” (King). What happens to a dream deferred? If the dream is important enough to the dreamer, it burns like a fire until the deferred dream is accomplished. “We cannot turn back” (King). The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution (ratified in 1865), which abolishes slavery, has been interpreted to include the abolishment of segregation and discrimination.

What happens to a dream deferred? If a mature dream is pursued by the ready and willing dreamer, it is likely that the dream will come true.

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