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Bad Dreams in A Raisin in the Sun


The issue of racism is one of the most significant themes in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.

Many black men have to deal with inherent racism. The frustrations that they deal with does not only affect them, but it also affects their families as well.

When Walter Lee has a bad day he can't yell at his boss for fear of loosing his job Instead he takes it out on his family, mainly his wife Ruth. Walter is thirty-five years old and drives a limousine for a living. This job provides just enough for his family without there being extra money left over to spend. It is so bad that when Travis asked his mother Ruth for fifty cents she said she couldn't give it to him because they couldn't afford it. Walter hears this and gets a little upset with Ruth and gives Travis a dollar instead. Walter tells Ruth that she shouldn't tell Travis that they can't give him fifty cents because they don't have it. I believe Walter is upset because he realizes that he isn't able to provide his son with pocket change without becoming broke himself.  What kind of man would he be? What kind of role model would he be for Travis if he can't bring home enough money to support his family? How would he be a strong black man for his family? It's obvious that Walter is not able to provide his family with what is considered the "American Dream".

Walter complains to Mama about the way he feels about his job. I open and close 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?" Walter wants to be the one sitting in the back of that limousine while someone else is doing the driving. Walter wants financial freedom, he doesn't want just enough money to provide for his family but rather he tells his mother "I want so many things." Walter is materialistic and greedy, he has been corrupted by a superficial “American dream”.

Walter has no desire to find out about himself through his African American Heritage. He believes he can define himself through money, money is everything to this man. Money is status, money is wealth, money is happiness, money is almost God to him. George symbolizes the black man that has fully assimilatd into the white man's world. Too much emphasis is placed on the advantages that white people have and that black people don't. Both Walter and George get pulled into these lifestyles but in very different ways. George has totally walked away from his race and community with his materialistic attitude and his feelings of supremacy. George denounced his race rather then accept it and grow on it. George's behavior is a betrayal of his heritage and reveals his insecurities.

Walter and George will continue to let the idea of black and white affect their lives, while Asagai is different. Asagai is the proud African man, he is the only character who knows where he is going in life and how to get there. He is not concerned about matters with money or status in society. Asagai is a simple man who encourages Beneatha to explore her heritage. He enlightens Beneatha about her African heritage and tells her she should be proud of her hertiage. Beneatha is the only person in her family that has a strong sense of enthic pride and she's the only one who makes an attempt to learn about her culture. Asagai isn't liked very much by Walter, he prefer that Beneatha marry a rich man instead. Asagai is what Walter will never understand, A man very proud of his heritage. All Walter understands is what money means in terms of status in society. For George, Asagai is basically a reality check of something that he is not willing to accept and that is enthic pride. Toward the end, when Walter stated that his family was hard working, honest and plain he started to actually have a different set of morals instead of admiring the all mighty dollar. By doing this he showed Mr. Linder that his family was just as good as any family living in that neighborhood.

Throughout the play, each character is stressed out about one thing or the other. If it's not money, it's education or a larger house to live in, but it's always something. But some how they all get it together and show the most important value, love and each other, not race, class or money.

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