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“A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry

The issue of money has always been actual. Life of people changed greatly with the appearance of this remedy. Moreover, sometimes money is even said to be the main value in human relations. Very often, people prefer rich and careless existence in a golden cage to some bright and happy, though rather poor life. Money has become the curse of our time as very often the age, in which we live, is called the most mercantile in the history. Such notions as dignity, kindness and self-respect have lost their importance. This problem is so actual now, that a lot of authors devote their works to this issue.

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One of such works is A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. The main events in this story center around the Younger family. They are poor people, who have a dream of better life, though each of them has his/her own view of what is better for them. However, they are all good people which try to survive in this world. Walter Lee Younger is one of the main heroes of this play. Being sure in overwhelming power of money, he than understands that there is something more important in this life and he becomes a real man, son and husband.

Walter Lee is a is a “lean, intense young man in his middle thirties” (Hansberry 488), who believes that money is the most important thing in the world. He has quite a big family. There is his beloved wife Ruth, which he really loves and cares about. Moreover, there is a sister, Beneatha, who remains a great mystery for him, especially at the beginning of the play, when they are very different. Walters mother, Lena, loves him, though she is not able to understand some of his motifs. Walter is a common man, who lives in a usual house, where everything signals about the poverty of its residents “Weariness has, in fact, won in this room.

Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often.” (Hansberry 487). In order to earn his and his family living, Walter works as a limousine driver. However, it is not enough. He wants more. He wants to guarantee better conditions for his wife and family. This desire is common for all members of the Younger family, however, Walter wants it especially. While desire of the Youngers is just to improve their living conditions, he wants to become rich. His desire is to earn a great sum of money, which will be able to solve all their problems.

This desire has become a kind of obsession for Walter. He does not notice other positive things or feelings, being sure that only money can bring happiness to his family. On his mothers cogitations about the role of money and remark that now money is life he answers No—it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it” (Hansberry 522).This phrase is the best characteristics of Walter at the beginning of the play. Being not a bad man at all, he still is blind in his obsession.

He has his own plan how to become rich. He thinks, that investing money in selling liquor is the best idea how to do it. He does not notice any other possible variants, though his mother is against it. This disapproval can be taken as a sign, though Walter has some other traits of his character. It is arrogance and chauvinism. Very often, he does not take into account feelings and thoughts of other people. That is why, it is so difficult for him to understand his sister. She is young, naive and full of bright ideas and expectations. She is seduced by Joseph Asagais ideas to go to Africa and become a doctor. Walter does not accept it.

His vision of Beneathas life is different and that is why he cannot understand that someone can have another feelings and emotions. He is not idealistic. All these qualities can give ambivalent characterization of Walter. He can be taken as the protagonist, as all actions center around him and the antagonist at the same time, as it was he, who demolished his family. Being absolutely sure in the in the only right way to end with poverty, he invests the business connected with liquor and collapses. It is not just his own fail, it is a blow to hopes of all family as they now are not able to afford a new house.

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The Younger family has to choice between dignity and money, as Mr. Linder suggests them a deal. He is not satisfied that black men will be his neighbors and wants them to stay at their old house. Facing this choice, Walter shows all his negative qualities as he wants to accept it. Taking into account his character and peculiarities of his world view at the beginning of the play, it is not a great surprise. Uneducated, arrogant and blinded, he sees no other choice than to accept this proposal. Self hatred prevents him from making right decision, which he sees in taking money.

His thrust for money raises another question. It is a question of race, ethnicity and recognizing of own roots. Each character of this story has his/her own vision of importance of the roots, moreover, this attitude is often given on the background of the role of money in this world. Walter is also involved in this conflict. There is an opposition between him and his mother, which serves to illustrate existing generation gap better. Mama appreciates freedom that they have, as she remembers time when they were afraid to be lynched (Hansberry 522), while Walter does not understand it. He sees things from another perspective.

He considers himself to be a common citizen with his own American Dream. He is not interested in what Joseph Asagai believes. Moreover, hi is irritated with it. Ethnic music and traditions of Africa seems foolish and inappropriate for him. On the background of Asagai, who serves as the symbol of Africa in this work, Walter can be taken as a totally assimilated man, which is ready to forget his traditions and culture in order to become a part of this society and earn money.

However, all these words are fair to Walter who is described at the beginning of the play. The thing is, that he is gradually changing throughout the work. His attitudes and purposes obtain new meaning. It is obvious, that he is a loving man, who adores his wife, son and the rest of his family. In his dreams, he sees their happy future, in which they love each other. This love can be one of the main factors which changed Walter. All his attempts to bring peace and happiness to their house by earning money and trying to become rich just make all members of the family unhappy.

Beneatha is deprived of her chance to get education, as Walter loses money, Ruth has to make an abortion, as she understands that one more child will bring more troubles and spending and Mama almost forgets her dream to obtain a new house. Seeing these sufferings, Walter starts to understand that money is not that thing which can guaranty peace and understanding in their family. Since that time, alteration of his priorities can be observed.

He forgets his overwhelming desire of money and, moreover, he accepts his roots, having realized that there is another attitude to people like them in society, though, he will try to do his best to be a good person and member of society. His answer to MR. Linden serves as the best evidence to this statement. “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” (Hansberry 575). Basing on the reaction of his family members to this statement, it is possible to understand, that they approve this decision and now they take Walter as a real man and husband, which takes care of his own family and appreciate them most of all.

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Having analyzed the character of Walter Lee Younger, it is possible to make certain conclusions. He is a typical mid-twenty century American man, with his own troubles and conflicts. Being concerned about money, he, though, realizes real importance of things and changes. Throughout the work, it is possible to see the motifs and reasons of this change. That is why, in the end of the story Walter Lee is a caring father, which understands that his family is his greatest wealth.

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 1959. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, May 1). “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/a-raisin-in-the-sun-by-lorraine-hansberry/

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