A Raisin in the Sun – Dream Symbolism
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, portrays the life of a black family living in a bad section of Chicago. There are many problems in this family, but mostly it revolves around the character of Mama and how she longs to give her family a better life through the money she receives when her husband dies. Also, the family deals with the racism in Chicago in the 1950’s complicating the realization of Mama’s dreams for the family as well as other family conflicts that come up when money is entered into the equation.
A Raisin in the Sun is basically about dreams, as the main characters struggle to deal with the oppressive circumstances that rule their lives. The Youngers struggle to attain these dreams throughout the play, and much of their happiness and depression is directly related to their attainment of, or failure to attain, these dreams. By the end of the play, they learn that the dream of a house is the most important dream because it unites the family.
“Oh–So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life–now it’s money. I guess the world really do change.” Mama is Walter and Beneatha’s sensitive and loving mother and the head of the Younger household. She demands that members of her family respect themselves and take pride in their dreams. Mama demands that the apartment in which they all live always be neat and clean. She stands up for her beliefs and provides perspective from an older generation. She believes in striving to succeed while maintaining her moral boundaries. Money is only a means to an end for Mama; dreams are more important to her than material things, and her dream is to own a house with a garden and yard where Travis can play. The following quotation occurs in Act I, scene ii when Mama asks Walter why he always talks about money. Walter then replies “money is life,” explaining to her that that he believes that success is all about how much money you have. This conversation takes place early in the play and reveals Mama’s and Walter’s money struggles, and it goes to show the difference in their generations.