A Raisin in the Sun vs. The Glass Menagerie
American is known around the world as the land of opportunity, a place where you can follow your dreams. No matter how selfish or farfetched ones dream may be, their goal will always be available. Whether it be the pursuit of the woman of your dreams, like that of Jay Gatsby, or the hunt for something pure and real, like Holden Caulfield. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, and The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, exhibit the various types of American lifestyles and the aspiration that surface among each character. The dreams between the characters in the two literary works differ in selfishness, and availability.

Tom is a young man bearing the responsibility of his handicapped sister, Laura, and his suffocating mother, Amanda. He works in a factory, and uses his paycheck to provide for the family. Jim, a fellow factory worker and former high school friend, knows Tom as Shakespeare, in that Tom writes poetry, sometimes to alleviate his suppressed feelings of frustration. Poetry is one of Toms methods of escape from the lunacy in his home. Adventure is something Tom does not experience much of, and is angst toward his less than mediocre life is expressed in many of his arguments with Amanda.

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Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter, and none of those instincts are given much play at the warehouse, (Williams 64).

Love, hunting and fighting are adventurous matters, and with Toms run of the mill lifestyle, he does not encounter any of them. He cannot find love, he does not have anything to hunt, and he does not have enough courage to fight for anything. Another means of Toms escape are his outings to the movie, which are aided by the fire escape. Tom goes to the movies for several reasons; to satisfy his need for alcohol, to escape his home life, and to experience some adventure. Walter is a black man in the 1950s supporting himself, his wife, son, sister and mother in a small apartment in Chicago. He and Tom are both treated less than what a human is worth.
I open car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, Yes, sir; no, sir; very good, sir; shall I take the Drive, sir? Mama that aint no kind of job that aint nothing at all (Hansberry 60).
The Younger family has not been able to experience the finer things in life, and Walter, being the authoritative male figure, feels he is at fault knows that a change is needed. Walters solution is to use his fathers life insurance money to fund the acquiring of a liquor license. The women of the household are always ordering around Walter. Its Ruth, Mama, or Beneatha telling him how to run things, and when he gets a chance to take the initiative by using the money to invest in his liquor license, his friend betrays him, and his dreams are crushed.

Tom and Walter are in similar situations. They are living almost in poverty, and they are denied authority. Walters goal is not selfish, in that it is not just for him, but also for the benefit of the entire family. Toms goal, however, is for himself, and himself only. His plan does not benefit his sister or his mother, and it does not get them out of their current situation.

Amanda Wingfield is trapped in a world of her own. She cannot seem to escape Blue Mountain, gentlemen callers, and jonquils. She is caged in her past. Amanda makes herself believe she is still a young girl by going to the DAR meetings dressed in faux designer clothing, and the constant repetition of her stories back in Blue Mountain.
I wore it on Sundays for my gentlemen callers! I had it on the day I met your father I had malaria fever all that Spring I had a little temperature all the time not enough to be serious - just enough to make me restless and giddy! Invitations poured in parties all over the Delta! (Williams 87). Amandas dream is to return to her adolescence, and if she cannot attain her goal, she will live it through her daughter Laura. Amanda forces Laura upon men, and alters Lauras appearance to make her seem more than what she is.