Taking place in the 1950s in Chicago

Taking place in the 1950s in Chicago, the Younger Family is poverty stricken and are constantly worried about having enough money. For a African American family, it is very difficult for them to achieve what they consider the American dream. For each member of the Younger family, their idea of the American dream are forged by their experiences. For Walter Lee, his dream is becoming a wealthy business owner and to be admired by is peers. The American dream that once was the family business is now personal autonomy and home ownership. Walter wants his son to have everything that he needs but that dream comes with many obstacles.
The American Dream is the belief that anyone can rise above their beginnings and rise above those around them, growing in success and surpassing their peers to stand above them. For the middle class, they are ” blinded by their belief in the American dream, which tells them that financial success is simply the product of initiative and hard work.” (CTT Chapter 11) The phrase “All men are created” equal is a lie to the Younger family, especially Walter. They are not considered equal. The idea that the American Dream awards autonomy to those who work hard enough is an illusion to those who are not white, rich, and wealthy enough to achieve this goal. Walter expresses his extravagant ideals and hopes to his son Travis; “You wouldn’t understand yet, son, but your daddy’s gonna make a transaction . . . a business transaction that’s going to change our lives. . . . That’s how come one day when you ’bout seventeen years old I’ll come home . . . I’ll pull the car up on the driveway . . . just a plain black Chrysler, . . . the gardener will be clipping away at the hedges and he’ll say, ‘Good evening, Mr. Younger.’ And I’ll say, ‘Hello, Jefferson, how are you this evening?’ And I’ll go inside and Ruth will come downstairs and meet me at the door and we’ll kiss each other . . . and we’ll go up to your room to see you sitting on the floor with the catalogues of all the great schools in America around you. . . . All the great schools in the world! And—and I’ll say, all right son—it’s your seventeenth birthday, what is it you’ve decided? . . . Just tell me, what it is you want to be—and you’ll be it. . . . Whatever you want to be—Yessir! You just name it, son . . . and I hand you the world! (. . .). He does not want his son to be affected by the family’s economic status. The poor is seen as lazy and shiftless. Walter does not realize that it takes more than hard-work to achieve the American Dream; there are those who will actively work against his goal because he is African American. No matter how hard he tries, it will amount to nothing. He becomes desperate to make money as well as becoming wealthy. He resorts to stealing from his own mother to achieve his American Dream. The moment he steals he becomes a hypocrite, for he abandons the ideal of hard work in favor of lying, cheating, and stealing.
The original American Dream, before World War II, is centered around the family and family business. Marxism dreams of a classless society where all men are equal and can have a comfortable life. After World War II, the society of equality was driven by advertisement companies to a more self-centered view. The American Dream became to own a home and gain self-autonomous independence. Walter risked his mother’s money, his job and his family to survive poverty. In the end, it brought his family closer.