In the context in which it appears, “realization” most nearly means

In Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry does not reject integration or the economic and moral promise of the American dream; rather, she remains loyal to this dream while looking, realistically, at its incomplete realization. Once we recognize this dual vision, we can accept the play’s ironic nuances as deliberate social commentaries by Hansberry rather than as the “unintentional” irony that Bigsby attributes to the work. Indeed, a curiously persistent refusal to credit Hansberry with a capacity for intentional irony has led some critics to interpret the play’s thematic conflicts as mere confusion, contradiction, or eclecticism. Isaacs, for example, cannot easily reconcile Hansberry’s intense concern for her race with her ideal of human reconciliation. But the play’s complex view of Black self-esteem and human solidarity as compatible is no more “contradictory” than Du Bois’ famous, well-considered ideal of ethnic self-awareness coexisting with human unity, or Fanon’s emphasis on an ideal internationalism that also accommodates national identities and roles.

In the context in which it appears, “realization” most nearly means

  1. understanding
  2. accomplishment
  3. depiction
  4. recognition
  5. discovery

An important thing to keep in mind about the Reading Comprehension section of the GRE as we use PowerPrep online to study is that it is just that—reading comprehension. In other words, as difficult as it may seem, and it can be pretty tricky, the test makers will always give us all the information we need in the passage to answer the question, and word-in-context questions, such as question 9 of the second Verbal section on practice test 1, are a perfect example.

Now, we likely are familiar with the word “realization” in some contests, but our question asks about this context specifically. Therefore, our approach to this should actually be fairly similar to our approach to a text completion question. Before we look at the answers, we should examine the context and predict what might be a good answer.

“In Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry does not reject integration or the economic and moral promise of the American dream; rather, she remains loyal to this dream while looking, realistically, at its incomplete realization. Once we recognize this dual vision, we can accept the play’s ironic nuances as deliberate social commentaries by Hansberry rather than as the “unintentional” irony that Bigsby attributes to the work. “

Hmm. In the passage, the author refers to “its incomplete realization,” so we should back up to figure out what this possessive pronoun “its” refers to—what could possess “realization.” Aha! The sentence is talking about the “American dream.” Hmm. We’ve probably heard “realization” used in a context similar to “the realization of a dream,” and that’s how the author is using it here. When we talk about “realizing” a dream or goal, we’re talking about making it come true. We might just as well say the “fulfillment” or “achievement” of a dream—these may sound a little clunkier, but they mean the same thing. Let’s see if we have an answer similar to “fulfillment” or “achievement.”

  • understanding

This answer doesn’t match our prediction. Understanding a dream would make it sound like we were talking about a more literal dream in need of interpretation. A can be eliminated.

  • accomplishment

Indeed! This answer perfectly matches our prediction. Let’s keep B.

  • depiction

“Depiction” or portrayal of a dream may seem to fit the context since we’re talking about a play, but the sentence refers to the “incomplete realization” of a dream, and Hansberry’s play is not an “incomplete depiction” of this dream. Also, “realization” and “depiction” aren’t really interchangeable in any context. While we should not use our knowledge of synonyms of words to find a correct answer, we can sometimes use it to eliminate answers that could theoretically make sense in context by would change the meaning. C can be eliminated.

  • recognition

Like A, this word could sometimes be a synonym of “realization,” but “recognition of a dream” doesn’t carry the same meaning—in fact it isn’t very clear. What is it to “recognize” a dream? We can eliminate D because it doesn’t match our prediction.

  • discovery

“Incomplete discovery” of a dream also does not seem to make as much sense and does not match our prediction. We want to talk about the characters inability to fully accomplish their dream as opposed to Hansberry outright rejecting it. E can be eliminated.

A good way to check answers to these type of questions is to plug in the answer that we feel is correct to the sentence to make sure the meaning doesn’t change.

“In Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry does not reject integration or the economic and moral promise of the American dream; rather, she remains loyal to this dream while looking, realistically, at its incomplete accomplishment.”

Indeed, this answer makes sense. Hansberry is examining a partial failure to achieve the American dream while still remaining loyal to it, which is different from an out and out rejection of that dream. B is the correct answer.

 

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