A Raisin in the Sun is a title with a lot of meaning. The obvious is what you can take from the poem by Langston Hughes: a forgotten dream shrivels up like a raisin in the sun. ButI think it has even more meaning when applied to the characters in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Hansberry did not name her play A Grape in the Sun, because her characters are not grapes; they are already raisins. I her characters had been born With luxuries that dried up over the course of their lives, the title would probably have been different. But rather this play is about raisins; people who grew up with nothing and are still losing more. Although this analogy could apply to any of the members of the Younger family, I think it especially applies to Walter Younger. Prior to the play Walter grew up as poor as could be, and has lived in the same tiny apartment his whole life. He drives rich people around every day, thus constantly reminding him of how little he has. Because his life gave him a son too early, his dreams were deferred, and this lead to Walter’s desperation for money. Walter, already a raisin before the play even begins, shrivels up more as the story plays out.
At the beginning of the play Mama, Walter’s mother, is about to receive a social security check from her recently deceased husband. As soon as Walter learns about the money he begins to think of ways he could make it into more money. Walter wishes to invest in a liquor store because a friend of his opened a business once and made a hundred thousand dollars. Because he believes it is as simple as having money, Walter begs his wife to ask Mama about giving the money to him. However, when she tries to mention it to Mama later, she almost immediately dismisses it (p. 32-33, 41-42).Much like his father, Walter has never been able to follow his dreams do to a lack of funds. Therefore, he is willing to do anything to make his dreams come true. Because the sun is often paired with goodness and light, its use in the title is probablya reference to the one good thing this family has seen in a long time: the check. When Mama receives the check the entire family cheers up because they believed that money was the one thing they were missing in their lives.
Unfortunately, a raisin shrivels up even more when exposed to sun light. If the check is the sun, then one might come to the conclusion that sunlight and money are not good things. When the check comes Mama uses it, but not immediately. She already knows that money will not help the family, and almost gives it away to the church. But she is talked out of it and uses it to buy a house. However, when Walter tries to use the money the family suffers even more. Walter, trying to make money from more money loses everything the family has. Therefore, money for this family must be the sunlight that is continuously shriveling their raisin-like lives. I believe that Mama knew this all along, because she tries to give it away as soon as she holds it in her hands. She wants to get rid of the money, because that is the only way her family could survive. Unfortunately, her son stil had the mind of a child, and did not understand that money isn’t everything in life. Walter, because of his love for money, almost disgraced his entire family, and his race.
After Walter makes a deal with the men who want to open a liquor store, and he acquires the money to invest with (his sister’s college fund) he gives it all away to someone he never should have trusted. The money was taken, and the family sank back into an even deeper depression. But by losing the light, Walter learns that family, pride, and love are much more important than money. Walter almost accepts Mr. Lindner’s offer of buying their brand new house from them. But in the end Walter sticks to his family and decides they should move into a house. From the moment Mama and her husband stepped into that apartment their lives became like raisins. They had kids, who had kids, and nobody ever left. Their lives became harder, and their supply of money became lower. As life went on the entire family shriveled up, until the check came. Mama, rather than giving all the money away to charity, used that money to fulfill her dream of living in a house But she didn’t buy it selfishly, because she knew she had a large family that could benefit from living in a larger establishment. Buying the house was the family’s one step closer to becoming a family of grapes, rather than a family of raisins.
Unfortunately, the play ends just before the family moves into the new house. This could lead to many possibilities in the family’s future. Walter only learned that family is more important than money, but he did not learn that money was evil. More likely than not Walter will continue to live his life trying out get-rich-quick schemes, thus keeping his family in poverty. And do to his actions at the end of the play, Walter’s sister can no longer go to college to become a doctor. If her dream had come true, the family would have been saved by her high salaried occupation.
The only hope the family has now is Travis and the child within Walter’s wife. Because both of these children now get to grow up in a house, rather than being the third generation to live in a tiny apartment, they should grow up to be the family members who save all the others. In conclusion, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry can be interpreted in many different ways. But it cannot be denied that each family member is like a raisin, and the money they receive is the sunlight shriveling their raisin lives away