A Raisin in the Sun tells the story of the lives of an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. At the beginning of the play, the family, Youngers, are about to receive an insurance check for $10,000 which they are receiving from the deceased Mr. Younger’s life insurance policy. Each of the adult members, Mama, Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha, has an idea as to what he or she would like to do with this money. Mama wants to buy a house to fulfill a dream that she and her late husband had when they were taking care of the kids. Walter Lee, now he would rather use the money they get to invest in a liquor store that he wants to start up with his friends so that they can become wealthy and solve the family’s financial problems forever. Walter’s wife, Ruth, agrees with Mama and hopes that she and Walter can provide more space and opportunity for their son, Travis if they follow Mamas idea of buying a house. And Beneatha, Walter’s sister and Mama’s daughter, wants to use the money for her medical school so she can become a doctor. But, it all goes south when they get the money and after Mama buys the new house for the family, she gives the rest to Walter to invest with the provision that he reserves $3,000 for Beneatha’s education. But instead, Walter gives it to Willy, who absconds with it, depriving Walter and Beneatha of their dreams, though not before the Youngers bought their new home. In the end, the Youngers eventually move out of the cramped-up apartment, fulfilling the family’s long-held dream of living in a real house after all these years. Their future seems uncertain and a little bit dangerous near the end of the story, but they are determined to live a better life. They believe if they stick together as a family that they can succeed
The theme of the play; A Raisin in the Sun is: that everyone in a family needs to stick together to be able to succeed and that fighting amongst yourselves will only make it harder for everyone. Every member of the Younger family has a separate, individual dream in the story. Beneatha wants to graduate medical school and become a doctor, Walter wants to have money so that he can afford things for his family and be wealthy, and Mama wants to purchase the house that her late husband and she wanted so that they will have enough space to fit everyone. The Younger family struggle to attain their dreams throughout the entire play, and much of their happiness, hopes, and depression is all related to their attainment of, or failure to complete, these dreams. At the end of the play, they learn that the dream of a house is the most important dream out of all of their because it unites them all as a family. There are three themes that coordinate with the main theme: perception of dreams vs reality, racial discrimination and the importance of family. All three of these relate to the setting and time period that the story took place in. What Lorraine Hansberry was bringing to attention, was that for each family member they have their own dream of what they would like to do when they get the money.
From beginning to end, I think that Walter Lee was the protagonist and the antagonist of the story. He was selfish when he learned about the money that Mama was getting in the mail from her late husband’s life insurance check for $10,000. He tried to convince her that they should invest the money to open a liquor store with his friends Willy and Bobo. Walters is desperate to be wealthy and would try anything to do so, but Mama doesn’t want to spend the money on alcohol, she wants to use it to buy a house for her family. After she puts most of the money on the house, she relents to her sons pleads a give’s the remaining money to Walter, on the condition that he invests $3,000 for his sister Beneatha’s education. But, Walter instead gives the money to his “friends” to invest in the store and they leave town. That caused some dispute between Walter, Mama, and Beneatha though the rest of the story until he was offered money from his sister’s wealthy boyfriend. He was tempted at first to take it, but in the end, he was able to redeem himself my deciding not take the deal stating that he was proud of what his family’s live was and of who they are. He might have changed his thoughts of becoming wealthy, but maybe he’s just putting on hold for now.
There was a lot of dramatic and situational irony in this play. For example, when Mr. Lindner arrives at the youngers apartment as a representative of the neighborhood association, he claims that he’s part of the “welcoming committee”. He tells them, (“Well–it’s what you might call a sort of welcoming committee, I guess. I mean they, we–I’m the chairman of the committee– I go around and see the new people who move into the neighborhood and sort of give them the lowdown on the way we do things out in Clybourne Park.” A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry Act II pg. 551-552 Moodle reading) However, the real reason for has visit is to let them know that the association is willing to buy their house to prevent them from moving into their neighborhood. This shows that the welcoming committee is there to let them know that they are not welcome in their new home. This is an example of situational irony, which exposes the racial tension that the people in Clybourne Park have against the Younger family. Another example of irony happened when Walter Lee was planning to go into business with his friends, Bobo and Willy with his and sister part of the insurance money. When Bobo shows up at the Younger’s apartment to tell Walter Lee what has happened to his money, it is an example of dramatic irony. As soon as Bobo walks through the door, it is apparent to the audience that something bad has happened. Bobo looks nervous as he asks Walter for some water after running over to tell the bad news about the money. Rather than the world holding him back from his dreams, it is, ironically, Walter’s friend, Willy Harris, that ends leaving town with all of Walter Lee’s money, along with the money set aside for Walter Lee’s sister, Beneatha, to go to medical school and be a doctor. This example contributes to the kind of character that Walter Lee is and calls attention to his shock and disbelief that his shortcut to the good and rich life not only fail for his benefit, but hurt his family in the end because of his ambition.
I found reading A Raisin in the Sun to be extremely interesting and impressive. Lorraine Hansberry’s play showed me how someone’s dreams would always have consequences in the end. Like the Younger family finally getting their own house and then being told by the white people from the neighborhood that they don’t want then there by saying that they want to buy their house. Even Beneatha’s dreams of becoming a doctor being crushed by her brothers dreams of making his family rich, but losing all their money, including her money to Willy. But Hansberry also stated that even some dreams have better endings, like bring a family all together to understand what they everything that they could ever want, that their family is all that they could ever want. For me, I would say that my family is all I would ever need and that being together is what makes it special.
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