A Raisin in the Sun
A Raisin in the Sun
Have you ever found yourself worried sick about money to the point where you can no longer think straight? Or have you ever thought that if you had a million dollars, everything in your life would be absolutely perfect? The fact is, a million dollars isn’t reality for the everyday average person. The average person works hard for a living barely scraping by. We are reminded of this throughout Lorraine Hansbury’s play A Raisin in the Sun. One of the main themes in this play is that money can’t buy happiness. The character who best conveys this theme is Walter Younger, a lean, intense young man in his middle thirties, who works as a chauffer in order to support his family. In my opinion, this character fits this theme because of how he believes money can provide true happiness for him and his family. However, certain actions change his mind in the end, allowing him to realize that there might be more to life then money.
For example, in Act I, scene I, we are introduced to Walter and his family who lived in a small apartment in Chicago’s Southside. We also learn that the family is waiting for a check to come in the mail consisting of ten thousand dollars. Over breakfast one morning, Walter explained his worries to Ruth about his sons future. He had a premonition earlier that morning saying, “I’m thirty-five years old; I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room, and all I got to give him is stories about how rich white people live…”(642). This quote indicates Walter’s yearning for money, and his shame of being a lower class black man not able to financially support his family. He believed that if his family was wealthy it would provide them happiness along with a secure future for his son. Ruth, however, ignored his premonition because she was more focused on her family, and not the money. She understood the importance of family and felt content with what they already had.
Furthermore, Walter continued to reveal his obsession with money when he tried to persuade his mother into letting him have the ten thousand dollars. With the money, he was going to invest in a liquor store with two of his friends. Walter explained to Ruth that investing in the liquor store would bring in more money then they could ever imagine, “You see, we got this little liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand and we figured the initial investment on the place be ‘bout thirty thousand, see. That be ten thousand each. Course, there’s a couple of them clowns to let your license get approved…”(641). With this quote, we still see the eagerness of him wanting to be rich. Walter wanted to be able to drive nice cars, and send his boy to college. Yet, he still failed to realize the importance of life without money.
In addition to his dreams of becoming rich, Walter, in Act II scene III, eventually got himself twisted around in his obsession. For example, once Walter’s mother had put a down payment on a house in a white neighborhood, she gave the rest of the money to Walter. He was supposed to put some of the money away for Beneatha‘s schooling, and then use the rest for anything he pleased. However, he decided to give it all to his friend Willy so he could purchase the liquor store in Springfield. When his friend Bobo came back to tell Walter what happened, he quickly panicked, “Gone, what you mean Willy is gone? Gone where? You mean he went by himself. You mean he went off to Springfield by himself – to take care of getting the license? You mean maybe he didn’t want too many people in on the business down there? You know Willy got his own ways. Maybe you was late yesterday and he just went on down there without you. Maybe, maybe he’s been calling you at home tryin’ to tell you what happened or something. Maybe, maybe, he just got sick. He’s somewhere, he’s got to be somewhere. We just got to find him, me and you got to find him. We got to!”(687). From this action, Walter realized he made a serious mistake. He had not only let his family down, but he had also ruined Beneatha‘s dreams of going to school to become a doctor. Walter finally began to see that money wasn’t the only thing important in his world.
For example, Walter showed determination to set things right. When Walter and his family were offered money for their house, Walter took it upon himself and decided to take the money. However, his family thought it is the worst thing to do and that it would do nothing but hurt their pride. Walter couldn’t believe that his family didn’t want to receive the money and said, “What’s the matter with you all! I didn’t make this world! It was give to me this way! Hell, yes, I want me some yachts someday! Yes, I want to hang some real pearls ‘round my wife’s neck. Ain’t she supposed to wear no pearls? Somebody tell me, who decides which women