The play Raisin in the Sun is a tale of a family that has different dreams, encouraged by the insurance check from their deceased father’s policy. The family is split on how to spend the money. However, Mama, in the end, gets her way to get the entire family to a bigger house that will give them a platform to stabilize their lives. In the play, the personalities of Walter, Lena (Mama) and Beneatha Younger conflict due to their different characteristics and outlook on life. Walter has dreams of schemes that he conjures with his friends hoping to strike it rich. Walter believes in a quick solution to the problems facing the family. Mama, on the other hand, is more reflective. She desires to fulfill the dream she shared with her deceased husband. A house would be for the family. Mama believes a bigger house will allow the family room to venture out and explore opportunities knowing they always have somewhere to go back to. Beneatha Younger, on the other hand, is privileged to have attained higher education in the family and sometimes is overbearing for perceiving herself as an intellectual; more than anyone else in the family. Walter, Beneatha, and Mama have their dreams deferred or altered in Raisin in the Sun, indicating the unpredictability of life and its need for determination and persistence.
Walter Younger is determined to be the new head of the family. He is preoccupied with schemes that will guarantee the family financial success he is particularly fascinated by ideas that are high-income generators in the short term. Walter feels that wealth is his escape from a dead end job and feelings of hopelessness and desperation (Hansberry 12). However, his dream is altered when after being entrusted by his mother with the rest of the money, he loses it all to a prospective business partner. To Walter, the entire sum invested in a liquor store would return in a high return on investments. Walter does not agree with his mother on the priorities of the family. Every coin that was not spent on the liquor store investment was a waste according to Walter (Hansberry 18). Mama is open and honest in communication and her dealings. On the other hand, Walter is secretive and prone to making impulsive decisions. Walter makes his mother feel guilty for using the money to pursue her dream. He secretly uses the money to continue his dream. Walter’s dream is deferred when the prospective partner goes into hiding with the capital.
Mama is a reflective woman who dreams of getting a house for the entire family to settle in. Mama's dream was shared with her late husband. However, unlike her son Walter, she is not impulsive. She takes her time before making decisions. She took her time to find the seemingly perfect house. Her dream is under threat from the dreams of other family members except for Ruth (Walter's wife) who supports her. Mama is a traditional woman typical of women her age in the times the story is set. She prefers getting the family a home away from the ghetto they live in. Her son's dreams conflict with hers. Firstly, she is against the sale of liquor from an ethical and health standpoint. Secondly, does not see the world as Walter does. She does not believe in the get rich quick scheme that Walter believes in. Her dream comes true partially because the family moves into a good house although the residents of the neighborhood object to their presence and try to bribe them to get away.
Beneatha’s dream, on the other hand, is influenced by her personality. Beneatha is self-serving to a great extent, and this is where her dream differs from Mama's and Walters's. WEhile Walter and Mama are focused on actions that will benefit the entire family; Beneatha’s vision of the money is entirely directed towards serving herself. Beneatha wants the money to be used to fund her education so she can be a doctor, an achievement that will allow her to express herself (Hansberry 12). Beneatha’s values are self-oriented and have no visions of the family. She wants to be an independent woman who does not rely on a man for sustenance. Beneatha’s dream involves a career that is alongside a pursuit of identity and feminist connotations. Beneatha even tells Ruth and Mama that she might decide not to get married. The man in her life (George Murchison) is too ‘shallow’ for her. He does not have an awareness of cultural issues, especially race relations. Ruth and Mama are shocked because it is unlike the societal expectation of women at the time.
Walter, Beneatha, and Mama have different dreams. Walter wants to get rich quickly and life the family from poverty. Mama wants the family to have a modest home in a safe neighborhood. Beneatha, on the other hand, wants to be a doctor and find her identity. Walter, Beneatha, and Mama have different priorities with the money and how it contributes to their dreams. While Walter and Mama desire to assist the entire family with the money, Beneatha is focused on using the money to advance her career. Walter and Mama, however, differ on what will assist the family most. Walter believes in investing in business, while Mama wants a home for everyone. Walter has his dream deferred, while Mama realizes her dream. Beneatha, on the other hand, has to wait to see the outcome of her dream.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun: A Drama in Three Acts. Random House, 1959.
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