In A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry portrays the obstacles that the Younger family and other African Americans had to face and overcome during the post-World War II era. The obstacles that had to be overcome by the Youngers were economical, moral, social, and racist. Lorraine Hansberry, the author of the play, had to face one of these as well while growing up. She was born in Chicago on the south side in an all-black neighborhood, and her family had to deal with segregation.
Moving to a white neighborhood in Chicago, her family had to deal with threats of violence and legal action. Her father successfully defended the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Her parents were well-known in national black culture and political circles, which probably sparked her later career as a reporter and editor for the Freedom, a black newspaper. Hansberry relates her life situations through her play by having the Younger family deal with a similar circumstance. In the play, Lena Younger, better known as Mama, receives a $10,000 check because her husband had passed away.
She decides to buy a house in Clybourne Park, which is an all-white neighborhood. After finding out a black family is moving to Clybourne, the so-called Organization Committee sends out Mr. Lindner to welcome the Youngers. He doesn’t do much welcoming but rather tries to discourage them and make them back out of their plans. The four main characters in the play all deal with other obstacles as well. The other main obstacles are economical, social, and moral. Lena Younger, or Mama, is the head of the household.
She works in other people’s kitchens as a cook. She probably works for very little, but she put her daughter through college. I’m sure she would rather not be working for someone basically as a slave or for very little money, but she accepts her job because of the time period in which she was raised. In my time, we were worried about not being lynched, getting to the north if we could, and how to stay alive while still having a pinch of dignity. Walter Younger is Lena’s son, and he is a chauffeur for a rich white guy.
He dislikes his job and wants to buy a liquor store with the $10,000 his mother is collecting. He thinks that if all black people tried their own thing, like opening a liquor store, then they could succeed.
Ruth Younger is Walter’s wife; they have one child named Travis. Ruth does the same work as Lena. I think Ruth probably dislikes it more than Lena because of their ages, but Ruth accepts it because she knows they’re poor.
Beneatha Younger is Lena’s daughter. She is a straight-edge type and the only one in the Younger family to go to college. She shows it with her educated speech.