In the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, the Youngers, an African-American family struggling financially in Chicago’s south side, are central. Each family member has their own dreams and aspirations; some dreams are so intense they threaten to overflow, while others remain suppressed. Regardless, every family member holds onto a dream. Walter, Beneatha, and Mama all desire a better future. It is through the pursuit and obstacles faced in achieving these dreams that the characters undergo personal growth.
Walter has always had aspirations of acquiring riches, achieving success, and gaining the admiration of others. Currently, he works for a wealthy elderly Caucasian individual. Walter firmly believes that accumulating wealth will enable him to enhance his living conditions, upgrade his wardrobe, and provide an excellent education for his children. Ultimately, his objective is to lead a more satisfying life than his current one. In order to accomplish these goals, Walter wholeheartedly dedicates himself to his employment and utilizes his mother’s insurance funds to invest in a liquor business with hopes of attaining substantial profits. He even goes as far as pilfering Beneatha’s portion of the insurance money and investing it as well. Unfortunately, in the end, Willy Harris absconds with both the insurance money and all other investments.
Mama has a dream of owning a house with a garden, but she decides to postpone it for the sake of her family. Despite its ragged state, Mama cares for a small plant in her window, which symbolizes her children’s dreams. Just like the plant, Mama’s children grow despite not having much. Eventually, Mama uses part of her insurance money to make a down payment on a house in Clyborne Park, an all-white neighborhood. This news makes the family anxious due to attacks on people of color in such neighborhoods. A representative from the neighborhood offers to buy back the house, but Mama adamantly refuses to give up on her dream.
Beneatha is a determined and educated character in the play. She desires to establish her identity and aspires to attend medical school in order to become a doctor. As an atheist, Beneatha believes in the profound ability of doctors to save lives and she aims to acquire this power. She diligently studies and achieves good academic results. Additionally, Beneatha engages in conversations with Asagai, a transfer student from Africa, about her African heritage and the possibility of returning to her roots. The conclusion of the play leaves us uncertain about whether Beneatha eventually pursued medical school or not.
The characters in A Raisin in the Sun, including Walter, Beneatha, and Mama, all share the common aspiration of a better life. Whether their dreams are ultimately realized or not, the characters undergo personal development as a result.