A Raisin in the Sun
The influence of dreams on the thinking, attitude and behavior of the human beings is depicted in the play “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry. The play depicts some days in the lives of the family members of an African American family, the Youngers. The family stays together but as far as the dreams of its members are concerned, each of them differs from the other. All the adults in the family are holding on to their dreams and striving to achieve them. The family consists of Mama (Lena), her two children Walter and Beneatha along with Walter’s wife Ruth and son, Travis. Walter Younger, the son in the family pursues the dream of setting his own business and becoming a wealthy person. Walter is so obsessed with the fulfillment of his objective of becoming a rich person that he adopts a wrong way to accomplish his aim. But in the end, Walter realizes his mistake and emerges as a man who supports his family in the fulfillment of a dream which provided happiness to all its members.
Walter Younger differed from the views of other family members, in regards to the significance of money in one’s life. Walter always thought that money can solve all the problems in one’s life. “No—it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it.” (Hansberry 61). To fulfill his dream of becoming a wealthy person, Walter desired to start a business along with his friend, Willy. When Walter suggested that the insurance money should be invested in liquor business, Walter’s mother, Mama was not ready to hand over the money. But after paying some
of the money for the house, she gives Walter the remaining money so that his dream is also
fulfilled. But Walter fails to fulfill his dream, as Willy flees with his money. Walter not only loses his money but also the money kept aside by Mama for Beneatha’s education. He is so consumed with the fulfillment of his dream of becoming a rich man that he falls into the trap of Willy, who easily dupes him and runs away with Walter’s money. “Walter Lee’s obsession with money and improving his family blinds him to a swindle he is about to undertake in acquiring the liquor store.” (Krasner 59). Even after losing his money, Walter seeks to find another way to accomplish his dream. He convinces his mother to accept the money offered to them by Mr. Linder for not moving into their new house. He aims to utilize that money for realizing his dream. Being a dreamer, Walter fails to carry out his responsibility as the provider of his family. Walter makes up his mind to give up the pride of his family for sake of his dream by deciding to accept the money offered to them by Mr. Linder. Although Walter is right in harboring the dream of improving the living standards of his family by becoming a prosperous businessman, he is wrong in his desire to achieve his dream through easy means.
But when Walter becomes aware of the sorrow and contempt of Mama, Ruth and Beneatha, which was caused by his decision to accept the money offered by Mr. Linder, he realizes his mistake and failure in fulfilling his duties towards his family. “Walter Younger recognizes that he has earned his family’s shame and contempt, instead of their respect as he had wished. He has failed as a husband, father and human being.” (Thomas 148). He understands that moving in the new home will not only provide happiness to all the members of the family but also ensure that the family pride is maintained. The thoughts of Mama, Beneatha and Ruth regarding his decision make Walter to realize his folly in yielding to the pressures of the white
society. So he decides to give up his self-centered dream and aims to fulfill the dream of his
family. When Mr. Lindner arrives at Walter’s home with the money, Walter refuses his offer and states that his family has decided to move into the new house. Walter’s answer to Mr. Lindner’s offer brings forth the change in his attitude and his concern for the dream of his family. “We have decided to move into our house because my father—my father—he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money.” (Hansberry 132). Although Walter commits a mistake by deciding to forsake his family pride for the fulfillment of his dream, he realizes his mistake in the end and succeeds in rectifying his mistake by refusing to succumb to the offer of Mr. Lindner. “He makes a stupid error, but lives through it, reclaiming his dignity and his status in the family.” (Murphy 145). Walter’s refusal to accept Mr. Lindner’s offer aids him in regaining his lost status in the family. In the end, Walter transforms into a man who is aware of his responsibilities toward his family and comprehends the significance of family pride.
The play “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry presents the struggle of Youngers family, for the attainment of its dreams. Walter Younger, the son in the family pursues the dream of becoming a wealthy person by starting a business. But he decides to fulfill his dream by giving up his family pride. The impact that his decision has on the family members makes Walter to realize his mistake. The play depicts the journey of Walter from being a young man chasing a misguided dream to transforming into a man who gives up his dream and strives to fulfill the dream of his family.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. The Modern Library. 1995.
Krasner, David. American drama 1945-2000: an introduction Volume 14 of Blackwell
introductions to literature. Wiley-Blackwell. 2006.
Murphy, Brenda. The Cambridge companion to American women playwrights. Cambridge
Thomas, James. Script Analysis for Actors, Directors, and Designers. Focal Press. 2009.