Family and Poverty Essay A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
This was a play that discussed the trials and tribulations of a working class black family in Chicago trying to get a piece of the American dream following World War II.
This story focuses on the family problems of the Younger family. Lena is the matriarch and she was about to receive a 10,000 dollar insurance payment following her husband Walter's death. Her daughter lives with her in a run-down modest house. Her son, daughter, and grandson also live in the small dwelling.
Walter Jr., or "Brother," was frustrated with having his dreams of success deferred. He was a dreamer who wanted to invest in a business and leave his job as chauffeur behind. His sister Beneatha, or "Bennie," was an ambitious college student with a lot of confidence. She was determined to beat the odds and become a doctor. Ruth was Walter Jr.s wife and a hard worker with a practical mindset. She and Walter had a strained marriage because of a difference in outlook on life.
There was a lot of tension in the Younger household. The story is a metaphor for the dialogue and variety of influential outlooks in the African-American community. Lena represents a traditional and religious world view. Beneatha has taken to radical ideas and is firmly opposed to assimilation into white society. She has sought to develop a connection with her African tribal roots. Walter is a dreamer and speculator who wants fulfillment in the business world. Ruth is a practical common-sense woman who is focused on day to day survival.
For most of the story there is internecine warfare between the family members. Beneatha and Walter are selfish and are looking to impose their wills on the family to get their way. Walter wants to invest in a liquor store. Ruth and Lena try to persuade him of the folly of this plan. Walter is so disheartened by his menial job that he refuses to listen to their pleas.
Beneatha makes a choice between marrying an establishment successful black man named George Murchison. She ultimately chooses to marry a Nigerian intellectual named Joseph Asagai. This is Hansberry interjecting some of her ideology as she rejects the old racial views of Booker T. Washington in favor of the more progressive outlook of W.E.B. DuBois.
Lena buys a house in a white neighborhood and faces opposition from tenants who don't want a black family to move in. A man named Lindner has veiled threats of the consequences moving in the neighborhood may hold for the Younger family. Walter has a moral dilemma. He has the choice between taking the refund and additional money of the purchase price of the home and abandoning the courageous move of moving to a better dwelling or taking a gutsy and courageous stance of moving in to the new neighborhood and challenging the status quo.
Further compounding the situation is the fact that Walter's "business partner" skipped out of town and walked away with 6,500 dollars. In the end, Walter makes the tough choice to stand up against racism and make the move to the new neighborhood. Lena applauds the move and feels that her son has finally acted like a man.
In the end, the story has a happy conclusion. Beneatha marries a man who values her and she rejects marriage to the establishment figure. Walter grows up and becomes a man. Travis, Walter and Ruth's son, has a bright future to look forward to.