An Analysis of A Raisin In the Sun

An Analysis of A Raisin In the Sun

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An Analysis of A Raisin In the Sun


        "A Raisin In The Sun" is a play written by an African-American

playwright - Lorraine Hansberry. It was first produced in 1959. Lorraine

Hansberry's work is about a black family in the Chicago's South-Side after

the Second World War. The family consisted of Mama(Lena Younger), Walter

Lee(her son), Ruth (his wife), Travis (their son), and Beneatha (Walters

younger sister). The Younger family lived in poor conditions, and can't

afford to have  better living standards. However, Lena is waiting to

receive a $10,000 check from her late-husbands insurance money. The two

main characters in the play, Mama and Walter, want this money to be used

for the benefits of the whole family. Even though both of them want to

benefit the family, each one has a different idea of what to do with the

money and how to manage it to benefit everyone.


      Walter Lee, like his father want's his family to have a better life

and want's to invest the money in a liquor store. Walter want's the money

so that he can prove that he is capable of making a future for his family.

By doing well in business Walter thinks that he can buy his family

happiness. Walter has dreams. Dreams he most likely got from his father.

Dreams of better life for his family and himself. A dream of financial

security and comfortable living. Ruth, on the other hand is stable and down

to earth. She doesn't make rash choices to accommodate a dream. She will

just make do with what she has. Mama is a loving person, she is wise but

lives in the past. She is happy to have her family with and be safe from

society. She thinks that money is not something that makes a family happy.


      Besides dreams Walter also has a husbands responsibilities which

are universally thought of as being able to support his family and raise

his children so they are morally in line with what he believes in. Walter's

problem, however, seems to be that he is building his supposedly well

thought out plan of investing money in a liquor store into something he is

infactuated with. By creating this infactuation, he is not able to achieve

his responsibilities. Besides having responsibilities Walter also has his

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manly pride. All throughout the story Walter Lee shows a type of pride that

might be considered the "manly" pride. He always insists on being the head

of the family and he thrives on the acceptance of him as that role. When

his  manlihood is questioned, he is greatly angered. He expects and tries

to demand for the rest of the family to listen to him and follow his guide

through life. He shows his anger towards the unacceptance of his "manly"

pride in the point of the story when his mother will not give money towards

his business interest. Mama denies him money because she has a deep

ingrained pride in her. Most of her pride is from the inherited pride she

received from her late husband, Big Walter. She has the good old  values of

putting your family first, respecting your mother, and father, and

respecting the Lord.


      She always talked about how her generation won their freedom and

was proud to be able to no longer be thought of as slaves. She never seemed

to fully understand the type of pride Walter was searching for although she

tried. She went as far as going against her belief that the $10,000 should

not go towards the liquor store. She ended up giving him this money to

boost his "manly" pride, but not before she put a down payment on a new

house. Although she was going against her values, she is proud in her

family and keeps her faith in them.


      Walter Lee has never wanted anything mere in his life than that

$10,000. He tries to reason with his mom to give it to him and tries to

convince her that it would be profitable to the family. His mother's "old

fashioned pride" is standing in the way of his "manly" pride. He thinks

money is the only way he can be successful; that money makes the man. The

following conversation between Walter and his mother illustrates Walter's

need for his business venture to make him fell like a man:


Mama:I don't 'low no yellin' in this house, Walter Lee, and you know it -

And there ain't going to be no investing in no liquor stores. I don't aim

to speak on that again.


Walter: Oh-so you don't aim to speak on that again? So you have decided...

Well, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on the

living room couch...Yeah - and tell 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.


At the end of the play, after Walter lost the money his mother gave him to

invest, Walter tries to get some money back for the house. Mama tells

Walter to do what he thinks is best, but he has to do it in front of Travis

and make sure Travis understands what his father is doing. Mama uses

Walter's own dreams for his son to show Walter what is best for the family.

Mama tries to teach Walter that money can not solve all of their problems.

Walter thought that being successful in business would teach his son that

he could be anything that he wanted. Yet the lesson Mama tries to teach

Walter is that no matter how much money you have you can still be the

person you want, even if that is a servant.


      "A Raisin In The Sun" is not just about dreams of a better life but

pride and family values. Mama teaches Walter a lesson about life, about

family. Mama's old-fashion pride, and family values bring this whole family

together when she thought Walter that money doesn't buy happiness.
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