It is the last thing Mama carries out of the apartment when the family moves, symbolizing the family's failure to thrive in their neighborhood. Both the plant and the Younger family are expected to blossom in their new surroundings.
Walter Jr. wants to use the money to buy a liquor store with his friends. He believes that owning a business will give the family the financial freedom that will make a better life possible for all of them. Walter's sister, Beneatha, attends college and dreams of being a doctor. She very much wants the money to attend medical school. In a way, her dream distances her from her brother and the rest of the family. She is better educated than they are and her dream, if fulfilled, would take her much farther than a new home or a family business ever could. She is eager to forge her own identity as a black woman and does not understand why her family even wants to live in a white neighborhood.
Ultimately, it is Mama's decision that rules. When the Youngers try to buy a home in an all-white neighborhood, however, their new neighbors do not want them to move in. This part of the play directly reflects the experience of playwright Hansberry's family. The Youngers, as were the Hansberrys, were offered money to stay away; like the Hansberrys, the Youngers moved to their new neighborhood, determined to make a better life.
The action of the play takes place over the course of several weeks, so there are several outcomes at which we can only guess. Beneatha, whose name symbolizes her socioeconomic position and underscores the status to which she aspires, rejects her wealthy boyfriend, George Murchison, because she feels that, like her audience is not even certain that the Youngers will move from their apartment. The homeowners' association has offered money to stay where they are and Walter, having been scammed by a so-called friend, was eager to accept. He did not care when the family was angry with him for selling out, but ultimately he comes to realize that the family and their dreams are more important than money. Walter tells the representative from the association:
[W]e have decided to move into our house because my father -- my father -- he earned it for us brick by brick. We don't want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that's all we got to say about that. We don't want your money.
In making this decision, Walter is assuming a new place as head of the family. He is honoring the legacy of his father. We can probably assume that, unlike the Hansberrys, the Youngers are not going to take their case to court. They wanted the right, as did Rosa Parks, James Meredith, the students represented in Brown vs. The Board of Education, and others, to live their lives as they chose. They were not asking for anything extraordinary; they wanted to be treated with the same fairness and decency that was extended to whites. Audiences who watched A Raisin in the Sun understood this. Broadway found a new audience with an increase in African-American theatergoers, who empathized with Hansberry's characters as white audience members never could. For their part, white audiences gained new insight into the challenges African-Americans faced. Much has changed in fifty years, at least on Broadway, where it is no longer unusual to have African-American actors and directors. A Raisin in the Sun changed everything.
"A Raisin in the Sun." Wikipedia. 1 May 2011. Web. 6 May 2011.
Ardolino, Frank. 'Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.' Explicator. 63.3 (2005): 181-183. Online. 5
Gordon, Michelle. "Somewhat Like War": The Aesthetics of Segregation, Black Liberation, and 'A…
Raisin in the Sun Beneatha is ahead of her time in a Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Beneatha is the daughter of Lena Younger and younger sister of Walter Lee who is married to Ruth. Walter Lee and Ruth have a ten-year-old son Travis, who gets his way often being the only grandson. Beneatha is a college student who desires to attend
She misrepresents the proposal of marriage of Asagai and is unable to provide the man who loves her so much and who understand her well. The complex character of Beneatha demonstrates another hidden quality towards the end of the play. The confrontation of Walter with Mr. Lindner reveals the arrogant statement of Mr. Lindner, "I take it then that you have decided to occupy." The easiness of Beneatha's reply
.. Don't understand nothing about building their men up and making 'em feel like they somebody. Like they can do something" (Hansberry, I, i.). It is clear that Walter Lee still believes it is the woman's role to support the man in his endeavors, and not to make decisions or act on them. In her responses to him, Ruth displays her growing frustration with and rejection of this belief, which
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Although treated unjustly by her older sibling, Beneatha has begun to question her desire to become a doctor, and is considering trying to get more in touch with her African roots instead. She wants to fix things in a more meaningful fashion than merely physically. The end of the play is bittersweet, because it is uncertain if the family will be happy in the all-white suburb, or safe, and because
At the same time Bernice doesn't tell her daughter the history of the heirloom, in fear of waking the spirit. This means that even Bernice is not using her legacy positively, but is afraid of it. Both characters are able to embrace their history with pride by the end of the play, as Boy Willie comes to understand the Piano's significance and Bernice begins to play it again (Sparknotes.com) 3.