Written by Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, portrays an African-American family struggling to make their dreams a reality despite the financial struggles and racial oppression they have to battle against. The main characters are Lena (Mama), the matriarch of the family, Walter and Beneatha are Mama’s children, and Ruth, Walter’s wife. The play opens up in the Younger’s family room, which doubles as young Travis’ bedroom. The apartment with just one small window is small and worn down, it shows signs of having “to accommodate the livingof too many people for too many years.” (23) The first scene begins when Ruth comes out of the bedroom to wake Travis and get him ready for school while making breakfast for him and Walter. As soon as Walter joins her in the kitchen he and Ruth begin bickering, she says they don’t have money to give to Travis for school and he thinks she never supports him. They speak cordially for just a few moments when discussing the check that is supposed to be coming in the mail that week. Walter wants Ruth to support his decision in using the funds to open a liquor store with his friends so he can work for himself and provide for his family.
Beneatha awakes and immediately begins to quarrel with her brother about her desire to get an education and become a doctor. Walter feels like the funds that are coming to the family shouldn’t be used for that purpose and Beneatha is having to make a stand against him, letting him know the S10,000 from his father’s death belongs to their mother and should be used as Mama sees fit. Walter tries to suppress these desires by getting Beneatha to “go be a nurse like other women or just go get married and be quiet.” (37) When Mama joins Ruth in the kitchen they talk about her children and Mama expresses her desires to see them happy but even with Ruth’s insistence Mama can’t imagine supporting a liquor store. Ruth passes out from exhaustion and later comes back from the doctors to find out she is pregnant and is thinking about having an abortion because her and Walter just can’t have another child in the home and they aren’t happy. Mama, who can’t stand this talk of her family being broken, comes back later and tells them they are moving out, she has bought them a new house.
This fulfills Mama’s dream of providing for her family and having a nice home and Ruth is elated at finally moving out of the tiny broke down apartment. Walter is furious, he thinks Mama wasted the money and he won’t be able to make his dreams come true without it. Broken over her son’s disappointment Mama gives Walter the extra $6500, $3000 is to be set aside for Beneatha’s education and he can use the rest for investment purposes. Finally, the family is happy as they begin the process of packing up and moving out. They envision a better life for themselves in a new area despite their initial reservations about moving to an all white neighborh0od. While Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha are packing up Lindner comes by, a white man from the “welcoming committee” in their new neighborhood. He wants to convince the Younger’s not to move into their neighborhood and offers to buy the home back from them. They kick him out and are confident in their decision to move to a home they deserve.
Throughout the move, Asagai, Beneatha’s African male suitor, tries to help her find her identity as a strong African woman. He desires for her to become a doctor and go back to Africa with him. She struggles with wanting to be an independent woman but realizes she relies on other for her success. Meanwhile, Walter’s friend Bobo informs him that Willie ran off with their money from the liquor store investment and can’t be found. Once again they are poor as Walter gave him all the money left after the purchase of the home. After some time, Walter resolves to calling Lindner and tells the family he will beg, he will “get down on my black knees.” (144) and ask the man to buy the home back so they won’t be poor. Walter is broken and loses all pride and self-respect because he feels like he has failed his family.
Lindner arrives and Mama invites Walter to tell the man what he has to say in front of his son, she wants Walter to take pride in the “five generations,” (146) of men who have worked hard to get the family where they are now. Walter finally finds his courage and tells Lindner that they are a “very proud people.” (147) He informs Lindner that despite the unwillingness of the neighbors his family will be moving into the home in Clybourne Park and they will be happy. In the midst of many struggles and downfalls Mama’s determination to see her family succeed helps them to press on. Though we do not see all of their dreams come to fruition, such as Beneatha’s future being unseen, we do know that the family ends with a strong sense of pride and care for one another. They realize that without each other they can do nothing, they are each others support system when the world is trying to tear them down.