The play “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry depicts an African American family with many struggles, and by analyzing their struggles, certain lessons and the theme of this drama can be identified. While the family does seem to hold together, there are many problems that arise, such as having family issues, trying to fit into a community of a different race, struggling financially, etc. By the end of the play it seems as if the family has been able to figure things out a little more, but the root cause of most of their problems seemed to have come from money.
Hansberry uses this play as a chance to show just ow important and influential money is, and shows aspects that make the reader question the ethnically correct way to make and spend money. Right from the beginning of the play the topic of money has already arisen. When Ruth first wakes everyone up, Walter asks her, “Check coming today? ” (LTHE 726) The fact that that was one of the first things Walter started talking about right after waking up, shows that it is something that is strongly on his mind, and it gives the audience a little hint as to how important the check becomes later on in the play.
Then Ruth replies that she does not want to hear about money first thing in the orning (LTHE 726). The topic of money tends to often be sore with many people, and it seems as if Ruth wants to try to get the day off to a good start without having to worry about the money that they do not have. The fact that the check has not arrived yet, is just a reminder of the money that they do not have. The play even explains the lack of space that the family has, which reflects the little amount of money that they have.
The young boy, Travis, has to sleep in the living room, many of the other family members share rooms, and the entire family shares the place with other families. It is even mentioned that hey have to share the bathroom, which also happens to be outside of the apartment, with some neighbors (LTHE 725). Overall the reader can tell that the Youngers do not have a very rich lifestyle, and living in such tight quarters with so many people is sure to get irritating. To make living conditions even tighter, the audience later finds out that Ruth is pregnant.
The audience gets a glimpse into how worrisome it is for the family that there will be someone else packed into the small home, and to have another person that also needs a lot of monetary care. Beneatha, Walter’s sister who is also living with them, even ade a comment about where the baby was going to sleep, and sarcastically said the roof (LTHE 743). That made Ruth feel even worse, and the audience finds out that she already put down a down payment to get an abortion (LTHE 752).
The lack of money has even lead the family to consider abortion, which is something that, by many people, is considered to be ethnically wrong. There is constant arguing about who should get the inherited money, and what should be done with it. Walter wants to buy a liquor store, but Beneatha wants the money to go towards her education, and throughout the story Hansberry shows the pros nd cons of both of the siblings’ plans. Walter’s plan to set up a liquor store is something that the family feels a bit uncertain on, especially his mother, whom the money belongs to in the first place.
They are a “good Christian” family and Mama does not feel as if a liquor store would be a good thing to be associated with , and later on the readers also find out that Walter tends to drink his problems away, which could be a problem if he were to own a liquor store. However; the audience also gets a glimpse into Walter’s life and his desperate need to make money. As the man of the house Walter is probably willing to take extreme easures to provide for his family.
This is one of the instances in which the audience can see both sides of the possible investment, and it is one of the cases that show the struggle of deciding what the correct thing is to do with the money. The same struggle is also prominent in Beneatha’s idea to invest in her education. If Beneatha is actually able to turn her education into something that will make money then it would be a good investment, but she is also shown to be all over the place with the things that she does, which could lead to her not following through with the education she says she wants.
Along with the ctual investment idea, Mama also has to consider how her decision on where the money will go will influence the relationships within the family. As a mother, Lena does not want to show any favoritism towards any one of her kids by giving them the money, because she understands how it could tear the family apart. She realizes how important their investments are to them, and she is able to see the good and bad in both. She also does not want to ruin the relationship between the two siblings, in case there were to be any jealousy.
Not only is Mama trying to decide which investment is the better idea, but she also has to deal with rying to keep the family together. This shows how much impact her decision, on where to put the money, has on relationships. Later on, once Walter was given the money and he completely lost it all, it starts showing the influence that money has on relationships. Mama told Walter to set some money aside for Beneatha, and later found out that not only did he spend all the money, but it was all lost to a con.
This makes Mama upset because Walter did not listen to her, Beneatha upset because the money that was supposed to be for her got lost because of her brother’s dumb mistake, and the entire family upset ecause the money was lost. When Mama goes out and buys a new house in a white neighborhood, it shows many different sides of what money can do; how it affects the family and what other people think about it too. Most people, the family and the people in the new neighborhood, have concerns about the Youngers not fitting in.
This aspect puts into question if having the money to do something is a valid reason to do something that is otherwise considered a bit taboo, and if having the money is enough to take away the uncomfortable feeling of not fitting in. To make the situation even more questionable, Linder, the chairman of he welcoming committee from the new neighborhood, comes by to tell the Youngers that “Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities” and that the community is willing to pay them not to move there (LTHE 776).
Later on Walter is faced with having to make the decision of whether or not to accept the money, especially after he lost all of it that Mama gave him. The large amount of money at play leaves the people in this play with many tough decisions varying a lot between money and family. Throughout this entire play money is a driving force, and an obstacle that the characters try to put aside from being thnically and morally correct.
Ruth often prefers for the family to not constantly make everything about money, Mama is trying to put the money that she got towards something that will help the family, Travis has been growing up trying to accept the lack of money in the family, Ruth wants to invest in her education, and Walter is trying to find a way to provide for his family. Every aspect of this play revolves around money and trying to overcome the obstacles that they face due to money. However; even after all of the family’s struggles Hansberry still gives the play a happy ending, where the family seems to be well connected and happy.