Bad Dreams in A Raisin in the Sun
The issue of racism is one of the most significant themes in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
Many black men have to deal with inherent racism. The frustrations that they deal with does not only affect them, but it also affects their families as well.
When Walter Lee has a bad day he can’t yell at his boss for fear of loosing his job Instead he takes it out on his family, mainly his wife Ruth. Walter is thirty-five years old and drives a limousine for a living. This job provides just enough for his family without there being extra money left over to spend. It is so bad that when Travis asked his mother Ruth for fifty cents she said she couldn’t give it to him because they couldn’t afford it. Walter hears this and gets a little upset with Ruth and gives Travis a dollar instead. Walter tells Ruth that she shouldn’t tell Travis that they can’t give him fifty cents because they don’t have it. I believe Walter is upset because he realizes that he isn’t able to provide his son with pocket change without becoming broke himself. What kind of man would he be? What kind of role model would he be for Travis if he can’t bring home enough money to support his family? How would he be a strong black man for his family? It’s obvious that Walter is not able to provide his family with what is considered the “American Dream”.
Walter complains to Mama about the way he feels about his job. I open and close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, “Yes sir no sir very good sir shall I take the drive, sir?” Walter wants to be the one sitting in the back of that limousine while someone else is doing the driving. Walter wants financial freedom, he doesn’t want just enough money to provide for his family but rather he tells his mother “I want so many things.” Walter is materialistic and greedy, he has been corrupted by a superficial “American dream”.
Walter has no desire to find out about himself through his African American Heritage. He believes he can define himself through money, money is everything to this man. Money is status, money is wealth, money is happiness, money is almost God to him.