Rasin In The Sun Essay, Research Paper
A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, illustrates the timeless struggle for the furtherance of family values and morals with extreme clarity. The play follows the life of a small black family’s struggle to keep their dreams from tenants to owners alive. These dreams, and the struggles necessary to reach them, as well as coming to terms with the dreams that are out of reach, are the focus and driving force behind this story of every persons struggle to achieve goals that are not always in tune with societies thoughts or ideas on a persons place in life. The internal difficulties of the family, and the detrimental effects of these problems, are major themes in the play.
In the opening scene; a husband, Walter, and wife, Ruth, are seen having a fight over Walter’s dream to become a “mover and shaker” in the business world by using an incoming insurance check for his mother as a down payment on a potential liquor business. Walter tells his wife, “I’m trying to talk to you ’bout myself and all you can say is eat them eggs and go to work.” This is the first sign of Walter’s recurring feelings, that if someone in the family would just listen to him and put forth their trust, his dreams would come to life. Following this argument, Walter goes off to his job as a chauffeur which is the job he so longs to be done away with.
As Walter dreams bigger and bigger he seems to leave the smaller things such as his family behind. This movement away from the family is against the family’s values and morals. (In the past his father would have been happy working for another man and caring for his family, but Walter is more concerned with becoming self-employed or at least in a management position without really thinking about the consequences which may be imposed upon his family by his incessant need to other things.) As seen later in the play, Walter learns that for the overall good of the family he needs to set his dreams aside and reset priorities, so that all may succeed.
Later in the morning Beneatha, the younger sister of Walter, starts yet another internal conflict by speaking in an unacceptable manner about God, at which point her mother slaps her because of her insolence to values that have been taught to her since childhood. This event shows yet another time in which a family member threatens to ruin the stability of the family structure by trying to build in a manner which is completely incompatible with the rest of the bonds. Beneatha, although believing to be bettering herself, is leaving an important part of herself and her heritage behind. Beneatha’s speech about God is her attempt to show her independence and uniqueness in the world, but when she asserts her self in an area that is extremely sensitive to the family heritage and structure, she threatens to wean herself from the only guaranteed support group in life, the family. Once again, as with Walter, Benetha realizes later in the story that it is the furtherance of long-standing family values and morals which give the foundation upon which to build a wonderful life.
These examples illustrate just a few of the many ways in which different family beliefs and goals among the family group do not always benefit, and are sometimes a source of conflict amongst the group members, in addition to the fact that the larger group goals are sometime lost because of the incessant race for individual goals.
In contrast, the story’s ending presents a view of how standing by long term family goals, values and beliefs provides a sense of unity that can defeat any obstacle and keep the pride of the family alive. Once the insurance money is received by Mama, Leana Younger, she believes that the best thing to do with it is buy a new house for her family and help to pay for the cost of Beneatha’s schooling. At first she is very adamant against giving any of the insurance money to Walter because she believes that his uses for the money will not benefit the family. But, as time progress Leana sees how deflated her son his because none of the family members will back his dream, so she gives him the money left over after buying the house to spend on his dream and “be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be.” Walter’s deal falls through, and he is faced with an even bigger task of talking with the head of the white “Welcoming Committee” of their new neighborhood, and pretending to be the stereotypical subservient black so that the they will buy the family’s new house and the family can then use that money for Beneatha’s schooling. But, as the time draws near for Walter to put his pride away, he realizes with the help of the family that no amount of money can make up for the loss of pride. Sometimes better to sacrifice the goals of one for the good of many, so he tells the gentleman from the Welcoming Committee that they “decided to move into our house because my father…my father-he earned it.” This bold and unselfish move helps to propagate the family’s long standing ethics, values, and pride.
A Raisin in the Sun displays a great recurring theme in life, many times the good of the few has to be sacrificed through the needs of the group. This play also powerfully illustrates the idea that sometimes to hold on to ethics, values, and pride is the most difficult option, but is the most fulfilling and helps to make facing the next challenge easier.