A play written by an African-Americanplaywright – Lorraine Hansberry. It was first produced in 1959. LorraineHansberry’s work is about a black family in the Chicago’s South-Side afterthe Second World War. The family consisted of Mama(Lena Younger), WalterLee(her son), Ruth (his wife), Travis (their son), and Beneatha (Waltersyounger sister). The Younger family lived in poor conditions, and can’tafford to have better living standards. However, Lena is waiting toreceive a $10,000 check from her late-husbands insurance money. The twomain characters in the play, Mama and Walter, want this money to be usedfor the benefits of the whole family. Even though both of them want tobenefit the family, each one has a different idea of what to do with themoney and how to manage it to benefit everyone.
Walter Lee, like his father want’s his family to have a better lifeand want’s to invest the money in a liquor store. Walter want’s the moneyso that he can prove that he is capable of making a future for his family. By doing well in business Walter thinks that he can buy his familyhappiness. Walter has dreams. Dreams he most likely got from his father. Dreams of better life for his family and himself. A dream of financialsecurity and comfortable living. Ruth, on the other hand is stable and downto earth. She doesn’t make rash choices to accommodate a dream. She willjust make do with what she has. Mama is a loving person, she is wise butlives in the past. She is happy to have her family with and be safe fromsociety. She thinks that money is not something that makes a family happy.
Besides dreams Walter also has a husbands responsibilities whichare universally thought of as being able to support his family and raisehis children so they are morally in line with what he believes in. Walter’sproblem, however, seems to be that he is building his supposedly wellthought out plan of investing money in a liquor store into something he isinfactuated with. By creating this infactuation, he is not able to achievehis responsibilities. Besides having responsibilities Walter also has hismanly pride. All throughout the story Walter Lee shows a type of pride thatmight be considered the “manly” pride. He always insists on being the headof the family and he thrives on the acceptance of him as that role. Whenhis manlihood is questioned, he is greatly angered. He expects and triesto demand for the rest of the family to listen to him and follow his guidethrough life.
He shows his anger towards the unacceptance of his “manly”pride in the point of the story when his mother will not give money towardshis business interest. Mama denies him money because she has a deepingrained pride in her. Most of her pride is from the inherited pride shereceived from her late husband, Big Walter. She has the good old values ofputting your family first, respecting your mother, and father, andrespecting the Lord. She always talked about how her generation won their freedom andwas proud to be able to no longer be thought of as slaves. She never seemedto fully understand the type of pride Walter was searching for although shetried. She went as far as going against her belief that the $10,000 shouldnot go towards the liquor store. She ended up giving him this money toboost his “manly” pride, but not before she put a down payment on a newhouse. Although she was going against her values, she is proud in herfamily and keeps her faith in them.
Walter Lee has never wanted anything mere in his life than that$10,000. He tries to reason with his mom to give it to him and tries toconvince her that it would be profitable to the family. His mother’s “oldfashioned pride” is standing in the way of his “manly” pride. He thinksmoney is the only way he can be successful; that money makes the man. Thefollowing conversation between Walter and his mother illustrates Walter’sneed for his business venture to make him fell like a man:Mama:I don’t ‘low no yellin’ in this house, Walter Lee, and you know it -And there ain’t going to be no investing in no liquor stores. I don’t aimto speak on that again.
Walter: Oh-so you don’t aim to speak on that again? So you have decidedWell, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on theliving room couchYeah – and tell my wife, Mama tomorrow when she has to goout of here to look after somebody else’s kids. And tell it to me, Mamaevery time we need a new pair of curtains and I have to watch you go outand work in somebody’s kitchen. Yeah, you tell me then. At the end of the play, after Walter lost the money his mother gave him toinvest, Walter tries to get some money back for the house. Mama tellsWalter to do what he thinks is best, but he has to do it in front of Travisand make sure Travis understands what his father is doing. Mama usesWalter’s own dreams for his son to show Walter what is best for the family.
Mama tries to teach Walter that money can not solve all of their problems. Walter thought that being successful in business would teach his son thathe could be anything that he wanted. Yet the lesson Mama tries to teachWalter is that no matter how much money you have you can still be theperson you want, even if that is a servant. “A Raisin In The Sun” is not just about dreams of a better life butpride and family values. Mama teaches Walter a lesson about life, aboutfamily. Mama’s old-fashion pride, and family values bring this whole familytogether when she thought Walter that money doesn’t buy happiness.