Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

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Does money really bring happiness? This questions has been asked over and over throughout history yet there is no real answer for it. The only way to know is to learn from experiences. In Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun the characters are caught up in caring too much about money, and it effects them all in many different decisions that they make such as Ruth wanting to get an abortion, Mama buying them a house, and Walter investing in the liquor store.
Ruth wanting to get an abortion shows that money has a big influence the character’s actions in the story. She is a woman of about thirty who has given up on life, but she is a kind woman who cares a lot about her family. She is described as “a pretty girl, but now it is apparent that life ahs been little that she expected, and disappointment has already begun to hang in her face (Raisin in the Sun, p. 610).” Ruth knows that the family does not have enough money , and that they are cramped into a little house. When she learns that she is pregnant, she decides she is going to have an abortion because she feels they just don’t have any money to support another child. Her husband, Walter, does not believe she actually thinks of doing this, and tells his mother that Ruth would never do that. Ruth then comes into the room and tells him he is wrong and that she has already put down a down payment on the abortion (p.639).
Another way that money is an influence to the characters in the story is when Mama receives the insurance check and buys a house for the family. At the beginning of the story all anyone can talk about is if Mama has received her check in the mail. Everyone just keeps asking each other about it. Whether it is Walter asking or even his son, Travis, it is the only thing everyone in the house can think about. The check that Mama is getting is an insurance check from the death of her husband. When the check finally does come all anyone can talk about is what she is going to do with the money. The money is not that important to Mama and she even says, “I spec if it wasn’t for you all… I would just put that money away or give it to the church or something, (p.

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636)” but because she is a kind woman who worries about her family she decides to take some of the money and go buy a house. Everyone is very excited to hear this news except Walter who is very upset by it. He feels that is makes his mother the leader of the household and not him. He tells her that she butchered a dream of his (p.651).
The last way that money influences a character in the story is when Walter invests in the liquor store with his friend, Willy Harris. Walter is a very depressed man who feels that money would change everything for the better. He feels that he has never gotten his chance to succeed in life and do great things because he has always been poor. Walter is unhappy with his job and thinks that he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. After Mama receives the money in the mail, and she goes out and buys the house Walter becomes more upset then ever. To try and make him feel better his mother decides to give him the rest of the money to hold for the family. Mama gives Walter sixty-five thousand dollars and tells him the next day he is to go to the bank and put three thousand away for his sister, Beneatha’s, college fund and the rest he is to put in a checking account under his name where he will make all of the decisions on it (p. 658). Walter is very happy to have been trusted with all of the money, it is all he has ever wanted. He decides to take it all and invest it in the liquor store with two of his friends, without even putting any away for his sister. His friend, Bobo, comes to the house a couple days later and tells him that the man they trusted with the money, Willy, has left with it and is nowhere to be found. Walter has lost all of their money, they are right back where they started.
Money can be a very bad thing when it is taken too seriously. Money greatly influences most of the decisions for the characters in A Raisin in the Sun, whether it is negatively like Ruth getting an abortion or Walter losing all the family’s money by trusting someone or it is positively when Mama buys the house for the family. Money does not bring happiness it just depends on how you look at it.


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