Walter Lee and Manhood in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

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From dreams deferred to identity affirmed Lorraine Hansberry’s, “A Raisin in the Sun,” presents readers with many differing themes. The most prevalent and reoccurring theme is the effect money plays on society’s views of manhood and happiness. Readers are shown multiple characters with a diverse view on manhood. From Walter Lee with his matching societal views that a man should be able to provide whatever his family needs or wants to Lena whose views are a biased compilation of her late husband’s behavior and her own ideals, that a man should maintain his honor and protect his children’s dreams.
Readers can see early on in the play the importance of money to Walter Lee. In a scene in Act 1 we see Walter trying to talk his mother, Lena, into giving him the money to invest in a liquor store. We can see him growing more and more agitated with her because she has already made her decision on the matter. Walter responds by saying,
“Well, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on the living-room couch…Yeah—and tell it to my wife, Mama, tomorrow when she has to go out of here to look after somebody else’s kids. And tell it to me, Mama, every time we need a new pair of curtains and I have to watch you go out and work in somebody’s kitchen. Yeah, you tell me then!”(Act 1 Scene 2 pages 1935-1936)
This scene shows the importance of money to Walter Lee. Here he is trying to guilt his mother into giving him the money by pointing out things that the family has to settle with. For example, he tells Lena that she will have to tell that to his son he is pointing out that Travis sleeps on the couch and does not have an actual bed of his own. He talks about how his wife Ruth has to watch someone else’s kids for money instea...

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...the deeds done for your family. Instead of choosing to give up the home his mother purchased for the family Walter stands up and chooses not only a better home for his family but also a better life. He chooses to keep a place his mother purchased that went against his dreams to provide his son with a real home and in doing so he finally and truly understood what it was to have his manhood restored.

Works Cited

Carter, Steven R. "Images of Men in Lorraine Hansberry's Writing." Black American Literature
Forum 19.4 (Winter 1985): 160-162. Rpt. inTwentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 192. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin in the Sun.” The Norton Introduction to Literature.11th ed. Ed.
Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2013. 1911-1974. Print
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