A Raisin in the Sun


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Victor Hugo once said “There is nothing like dream to create the future”. In Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, the Youngers, an African American family struggle against economic hardship and racial prejudice. The family of five, Mama, Walter, Beneatha, Ruth, and Travis, live in a run down apartment in the South Side of Chicago during the 1950s an era of great prosperity for most. They receives a life insurance check of ten thousand dollars after the passing of Walter Sr.. Each member of the family has his/her own plans for the money. Mama, Walter, and Beneatha have different interpretations of the American Dream: Mama’s perspective is family, Walter’s dream is material success , and Beneatha’s values independence.
Mama’s dream is to attain a satisfying life for her family, own a house, and have Walter be the head of the household. Mama discovers her daughter-in-law Ruth is pregnant and wants to have an abortion Mama frantically says that she “done give one baby to poverty” and she not going to let the family give up another child (75). Mama lost a baby due to her poverty once and is determined to stop Ruth from doing the same. Mama has always dreamed of owning a home and now she believes a home will help keep her family together she tells Ruth she wants an little “old two story”(44) with a yard where she could have a garden and “Travis could play in ” (44) . Mama decides to use the money to buy a house because she “seen [her] family [fall] apart” (93). By buying a new house Mama believes establishes an environment for growth and development, preventing her children from doing what she had to do and will keep the family whole. Mama’s dream is selfless because there is no personal gain.
Walter’s goal is to earn more money; being financially successful is important to him. After the arrival of the life insurance money, Walter and Mama get into a fight over how Walter has changes; Mama asks Walter why he has become obsessed with money, Walter reply “because it is life”(74). For Walter money comes before everything since no money equates to no life ; therefore making money become Walter’s number one priority because he believes validates his existence. After Mama gives Walter part of the insurance money, Walter talks to his son about how he is going to “change [their] lives” (108) he foreshadows the future he plans for the family.

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"A Raisin in the Sun." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Jan 2018
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He sees himself buying a “Chrysler” for herself and a “Cadillac” for Ruth to do shopping in, at their home, they will have a “gardener” (109). Walter imagines their future full of cars, servants, and luxury. Walters dreams are all materialistic, money equals successes. He dreams of money and the things money can buy. These things: cars and big houses are a way to show the world he is a success.
Beneatha’s ambition is to become an independent women by not taking on the traditional roles of a women. In a fray with Walter, Beneatha proclaims that she wants to “be a doctor” Walter counters why she can not “be a nurse like other women”(36). Beneatha wants to break out of the stereotype that she is only fit for minor jobs . Instead of becoming the typical nurse Beneatha will become the one in charge, giving her independence and authority. When talking to Ruth and Mama about her relationship with wealthy African American George Murchison, Bernatha courageously says “if I ever get married” (50). During this era most women married and their husbands supported the family; stating that she might not marry demonstrates that Beneatha is not only willing to financially provide for herself but also willing to break away from traditions of society, just for the opportunity of being independent.
Each character in the story has their own ambition, Mama’s is to get her family closer, Walter’s is to obtain more money, and Beneatha’s is to have self-reliance. Despite their constant bickering their goals all have an element of help: Walter, helping his family live better buy making money, Mama, helping bring her family together, and Beneatha to helping patients as a doctor. The theme of dreams is conspicuous, and can be found in the quote, “ Seem like God didn’t see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams”(45-46). In the 1950s most white Americans enjoyed the economic boom while minorities such as African Americans still suffered from discrimination and economic hardship. Hansberry uses dreams to suggest the importance of them in African-American families. With everyday life being so difficult, only dreams of a better future push them forward. Hopes and ambitions are powerful forces, and with them even the most tiresome work is worthy.



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