Walter Lee Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun
No matter how hard they try, there are some people who cannot get ahead in life. Walter Lee Younger is a man who is frustrated with his current position in life, and every disappointment he has encountered thus far. Although he tries to be a loving man, sometimes he does not know how to show the idea of love, ‘Sometimes…sometimes…I don’t even know how to try’ (Hansberry 89). His position in life can be regarded as symbolic of every black male struggling to provide for his family by any means necessary. Although Walter has a job, it seems inadequate for his survival. As a result, he has become frustrated and lacks good judgement. Throughout this play Walter searches for the key ingredient that will make his life blissful. His frustrations stem from him not being able to act as a man and provide for his family and grasp hold of his ideals to watch them manifest into a positive situation. Walter Lee Younger, a man who is vehement for his family, has many ambitions in life, and dreams of the biggest dreams out of anyone else in the play.
Walter wants the best for his family and he thinks the liquor store will provide him the financial security needed to boost them out of poverty. “I’m thirty five years old; I’ve been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in living room (Hansberry 34). best describes the sympathy and compassion Walter feels for his son. Although his family’s financial position has a strain on it, Walter doesn’t want his son to see him struggle. Even in today?s world, children are very susceptible. Walter displays a selfless characteristic which becomes overshadowed by unwise decisions later in the play. In one particular scene, his son Travis asked both parents for money. Walter acts out of pride by giving Travis his last pocket change. This symbolizes Walter’s willingness to be a moral father. In a different situation, Walter would not display his selfish intentions. This behavior can be attributed to working in a degrading, underpaid position and not seeing results. Metaphorically speaking, Walter can be related to the furniture in the small apartment, ?tired and broken in spirit?.
Every black male’s plight in America can be regarded as a provider for his family. However, society does not afford black males the benefit of feeling secure about providi…
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…ontrol of his personal ambitions to benefit the whole or in Walter’s case the family. Certainly it would be unfair for Walter give up his aspirations. The issue is whether Walter can distinguish between a fantasy of reality and a dream deferred.
Essentially this play can be regarded as the mid-life crisis of Walter Lee Younger, passionate for his family, ambitious, and bursting with energy and dreams. Walter cares about his family, and he hopes that buying the liquor store will being a brighter future to Travis, ?And-and I?ll say, all right son-it?s your seventeenth birthday, what is it you?ve decided?…Just tell me where you want to go to school and you?ll go. Just tell me, what it is you want to be ? and you?ll be it.?(Hansberry 109). Walter Lee, shackled by poverty and prejudice, and obsessed with his own sense of success, which he felt, would be the end of all of his social and economic problems. The dreams he had gave him a great sense of pride and self-satisfaction. Unfortunately Walter had to learn a hard lesson in life; pride and greed will eventually lead to unhappiness.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 1958. New York: Vintage Books.