A Raisin In The Sun: Achieving Dreams Through Obstacles
Money is the seed from which a tree can grow. To achieve dreams, and make a stable life, the presence of money helps greatly. But because of the society and human status African American people lived in, in the 1950s, it was extremely hard to pursue dreams and create a bountiful life. Lorraine Hansberry represents this idea in the award-winning play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” The play portrays the story of a poor family, the Youngers, residing in a small apartment in the southside of Chicago. During Act I and II, the Youngers eagerly await a $10,000 Insurance check, following the death of the hard-working Walter Senior. The unfamiliar presence of a large amount of money sparks the desires of a better life for the characters in the play. By basing A Raisin in the Sun around an insurance check and repeating the ways money can change the characters’ lives from poverty, Lorraine Hansberry argues that money is the prevailing power in society.
A Raisin in the Sun demonstrates the sacrifices parents make for their children to have a financially stable life. Walter Senior belabored immensely so that he could provide for his children. By working extremely long and hard days, Walter Senior sacrificed his health and personal life, for the sake of his family. He knew that it was hard for a black man to achieve prosperity, but he did not want his family to fall under the impression that they could never make it out of poverty and follow their dreams. In Act I Mama talks about what Walter senior used to do for their family, MAMA: “Big Walter used to say, he’d get right wet in the eyes sometimes, lean his head back with the water standing in his eyes and say, ‘Seem like God didn’t see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams – but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worthwhile.’” This proves the immense love he had for his children, and that he wanted them to succeed. After years of labor, Walter Senior passed away, but from his hard work came an Insurance check that represented his dedicated life to his children. Mama’s nurturing personality is also represented in the play, this is symbolized by the way she treats the houseplant. Even though it is withering, she loves it unequivocally. Much the same as her family, Mama’s plant does not have the essential assets to prosper. But instead of giving up, Mama does everything she can for it and has confidence that one day it will flourish. To improve her family’s life, Mama forsakes dreams of her own and lives vicariously through her family. After receiving the Insurance check, she builds a strong desire to move her family to a home so that they would have a better life. The money aids in furthering Mama’s desire to help her children rise from poverty, knowing that it is now conceivable to do so.
In A Raisin in the Sun, the power of money regarding social stature and dignity is also presented. This is demonstrated when Beneatha talks to Ruth about one of her suitors, George Murchison. George is an anomaly regarding black men in this period, for he is rich and lives in the luxury which is normally attained by white people. Beneatha tells Ruth that George is offensively snobbish and rude due to his higher class. GEORGE, “Let’s face it, baby, your heritage is nothing but a bunch of raggedy-assed spirituals and some grass huts!” Ruth naively overlooks his poor attributes and attempts to persuade her to get with him, with the knowledge that he has money, and can upgrade her sister’s social stature. By disregarding her sister’s uninterest in George, Ruth believes that wealth presides over Beneatha’s dignity and love. This theme also presents itself in Act II with the appearance of Mr. Lindner. With the newly arrived check, the Younger family became ecstatic with the knowledge that their lives would change for the better. By leaving their dingy apartment, the Younger family would be able to escape poverty and create a new life. The weak and inadequate white man, Mr. Lindner, is the representative for the white neighborhood into which the Youngers plan to move. He was sent to persuade the Youngers not to move into the white community on behalf of its residents. To tempt the family, he offered them a monetary incentive not to move in. The white neighborhood thought they could send the Youngers back to the dingy apartment, and buy their dreams of a new life away, which infuriated the family. Money is these scenes have a powerful significance, in the sense that it can take away, or define the characters’ self-respect, and social status. In conclusion, A Raisin in the Sun asserts that money is the predominant power in society.
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