“A Raisin in the Sun” is set at in an area where racism was still occurring. Blacks were no longer separated but they were still facing many racial problems. The black Younger family faced these problems throughout the play. The entire family was affected in their own way. The family has big dreams and hope to make more of their poor lives. Walter, the main character, is forced to deal with most of the issues himself. Ruth, his wife, and Travis, his ten-year-old son, really don’t have say in matters that he sets his mind to. Beneatha, his sister tries to get her word in but is often ignored. Lena (Mama) is Walter’s mother and is very concerned about her family. She tries to keep things held together despite all of the happenings. Mama’s husband had just recently died so times seemed to be even harder. They all live in a small apartment when living space is very confined (Hansberry 1731). They all have dreams in which they are trying to obtain, but other members of the family seem to hold back each other from obtaining them (Decker).
Walter has a steady, but low paying job and wishes that he could do more for his family. The money he makes hardly provides enough for his family to survive. He is constantly thinking about get rich quick schemes to insure a better life. He doesn’t want to be a poor back man all of his life and wishes that he could fit in with rich whites. He doesn’t realize that people won’t give him the same opportunities, as they would if he were white (Decker). Walter feels that he needs to provide more for his family and starts to ask around on how to make some money. He gets the idea of opening up a liquor store and has his heart set on it. Because he wants to please everybody he loses his better judgment and acts without thinking of the long-term effects. He is ready for a change and feels the store will bring his family a better life (Hyzak). “Mama, a job? I open and close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his Limousine and say, Yes, sir; no, sir; very good sir; shall I take the drive, sir? Mama, that ain’t no kind of job ... that ain’t nothing at all” ( Hansberry 1755). Even though he doesn’t have money he won’t let others see that and acts as if he has some to spare. On one occasion, Travis needs money for school and his mother said no. Walter stepped in and gave him the money and some extra to get something different. After he had done so, he had to ask his Ruth for money because he had to go somewhere. The money situation was causing a big problem.
The Younger family, however, were expecting an insurance check for the amount of ten thousand dollars. The money came from the death of Mama’s husband. Each and every one in the family had a use thought out for the money. Mama wished to buy a bigger house. Beneatha wanted to use it to attend a medical school. Ruth just wanted to use it practically and let Mama decide what to do with it, it was hers, and Walter wanted to start a liquor store with it. When the check arrived, small arguments arose but Mama had decided to make the down payment on a house and save some for Beneatha’s school as well as hard times. It was a big decision because Ruth had just found out that she was pregnant and the money would come in handy. But with another child they needed a bigger house, Travis was sleeping in the living room already. Mama gave the money to Walter to put in the bank, but he gave it to a friend instead, so they could start a liquor store. Walter was feeling good about what he had done because he was going to be somebody. A few days later his friend came over and said that the third person in the deal took all of the money and ran. He was lost he had no idea what to do with his life (Hyzak).
The house they had put the down payment on was also causing problems. It was in a white neighborhood and all of the landowners didn’t want any blacks living there. The supervisor of that area said that they would pay the Younger, so they would not move there. Because the family had pride they turned the offer down. They wanted to do as they pleased and not let their lives be controlled by their color. All of them agreed that it was worth the fight to have a nice house. After Walter had lost the money, he gave up on himself and his desire to keep a strong family and to give them a good life. He called the supervisor and told him to come over to discuss the house. He had lost all of his values and also betrayed his family’s trust to do the right thing. A heated argument took place on the decision to move or not. In the end, he realized that he had made a mistake but it couldn’t keep him from doing the right thing and keep his family ties and values strong. He had faced up to his actions and finally become a man even though it was not how he had planned it. He may not be giving them a rich life but his dream did come true in that he got respect and was indeed the man of the house (Hyzak).
Mama’s dream was simple just to keep everyone happy. She wanted all of her family to fulfill their dreams and have a life that they wanted. She often didn’t understand why they wanted to do some of the things but she never said that it was a stupid idea she told them to think of the out come and all of the possibilities before they went through with anything. She gave the money to Walter knowing that he had the opportunity to use it for the store. Her dream came true because her boy had messed up, but did the right thing in the end. The family was also closer after all that had happened. Her dream of getting a better house also finally came true, she finally got out of the “rat trap” that she had only planned on living in temporarily. She had always wanted a house and a garden in the back yard ”its a nice house too...three bedrooms... and there’s a yard with a little patch of dirt where I could maybe get to grow me a few flowers”(Hansberry 1764). Walter almost made that dream come to an end by using the money carelessly. It was also his final decision to tell the movers to work or not.
Ruth’s dream was to live a better life as a family not just wanting more money. She sees how big of a role that she plays in the family and that she is really needed and loved. She also keeps her baby, showing that times are not as bad as they could be. She did, however, come very close to giving up her dreams. At times, Walter hardly acknowledged her he even said, “who even cares about you”. Their relationship was falling fast the only conversation was arguing about money. Walter, the new baby, and the lack of money restricted her dreams greatly. She was close to leaving him and calling it quits, but held on and kept her dream alive “Well-well-all I can say is-if this is my time in life-my time to say good bye-to these goddamned cracking walls! and these marching roaches!...and good bye misery... I don’t never want to see your ugly face again” (Hansberry 1765).
Travis is really too young to have realistic dreams, but he has a good opportunity to reach his goals for the family is strong and will encourage a freethinking mind. Walter, if no one else, will see to it that he has a good life and to go for things that may seem out of reach. But not to see the true meaning of the dream that he is after. If the family would have broke up his life would have been hell and he might not even set any dreams for him self.
Beneatha, being somewhat of an outcast, sees that she can try new things and that her life does not have to be moving so fast. She has hope of fulfilling her dreams of becoming a doctor through her boy friend. An offer was made for her to be a doctor in Africa. Walter again almost made her give up on her dream because of the money problem. She feels that a doctor can’t cure the big problems in life, so she somewhat gives up on her dream to become one. Money is not the path to fulfill all dreams, it just makes them easier. Her hope returns after she had a talk with her boy friend who asks if she will go to Africa and be a doctor there (Robinson).
Money seemed to get in the way of all of their dreams. It was the force that controlled their lives. The money is like the sun drying a raisin, the raisin has no choice to dry up, but that does not mean that the raisin is no good, it is still sweet. People have to make the most of life with what they are given and not take stupid measures to change their lives quickly. Dreams are good to shoot for, but don’t let them ruin your life trying to fulfill them (Robinson).
Decker, Tim. “The Propagation of Pride and Dignity.” Texas U. 1998
Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin in the Sun”. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer ed. Boston: MA, 1999, p 1730.
Hyzak, Gregary. “An Idea of Manhood.” Texas U. 1999
Robinson, Laymond. “Robert Kennedy Consults Negroes.” New York Times 25 May 1963: 1, 8, Meeting with Baldwin, Hansberry, Belafonte, et al.
Partner sites: Free Essays and Term Papers