A Raisin in the Sun - Money
Where money is but an illusion and all it brings are nothing but dreams, one family struggles to discover that wealth can be found in other forms. In the play "A Raisin in the Sun," Lorraine Hansberry uses the indirect characterization of the Younger family through their acquaintances to reveal that money and materialism alone are worthless.
Living in a society where the fulfillment of dreams is based upon material wealth, the Younger family
strives to overcome their hardships as they search for happiness. As money has never been a way of life
for the family, the insurance check's arrival brings each person to see the chance that their own dreams can become reality. Whether in taking a risk through buying a "little liquor store" as Walter wishes to do or in -"[wanting] to cure" as Beneatha dreams, the desires of the family depend upon the fate of Mama's check. In the mind of Walter Lee
Younger, the check is the pinnacle of all, dominating his thoughts, as he does not wait a second before "asking about money "without" a Christian greeting." He cannot see beyond the fact that he "[wants] so many things" and that only their recently acquired money can bring them about. The idea of money and being able to hold it "in [his] hands" blinds him from the evils of society, as he cannot see that the Willy Harris's of the world will steal a person's "life" without a word to anyone. When money becomes nothing but an illusion, Walter is forced to rethink his values and his family's future, realizing that there is more to living that possessing material riches.
When Walter loses his "sister's school money," the consequences are widespread and Beneatha sees that dream diminish before her eyes. She sees her slipping through Walter's fingers and finds her lifelong goals changing. From the days of her childhood, she has longed "to be a doctor" and "fix up the sick." While her family and friends do not understand Beneatha's dream, she continues longing for the education she needs to create a successful life she desires rather than one where she is waiting "to get married." Ruth believes Beneatha is "odd" because she would not consider marrying into the Murchison's, a family of people believed to be "more snobbish that rich white people"; however, Beneatha knows that she can make a better life for herself than that of such people. When she looks at George Murchison, she sees money's effect on his outlook on life and knows that she wants more substance in her future even though he could give her innumerable material possessions. Her ideals of life are not based upon what a husband can provide for her, but what she can offer for her family and mankind. Being a doctor is all she has to hope for and with her chance of going to school gone, she forces herself to believe that her vision of the future was always "a child's way of seeing things" and not a substantial dream. Still, when Asagai asks her to "come home" to Nigeria, Beneatha's response to the proposal reveals that her dream is not extinguished, but merely altered from attending school to going on a quest to "cure" and to search for her identity.
While their dreams are within reach, through the course of one mistake, two characters were forced to reevaluate their plans for the future and realize that the riches in life are not found in one's societal position, but by their ability to see that money is worthless when it comes by itself.