The Symbolism of Mama’s Plant in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

Analyzing the Symbolism of Mama’s Plant

The play A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is about the Youngers, an African-American family, who receive a $10,000 life insurance check as a result of the death of Mama Younger’s husband. The play takes place in the 1950’s making race an important factor during the process of buying a house due to the “red lining system”. The red lining system was a way to define the value of a neighborhood after World War II based on the dominant race in an area; when the dominant race of the neighborhood was white, the value of the neighborhood went up and categorized as green lining. Whereas when the dominant race was black, the value of a neighborhood went down and was categorized as red lining. Generally the houses in the green lining neighborhoods were bigger and had more yard space, and the red lining neighborhoods had smaller yards and more cramped quarters. Mama’s aspiration is for her and her family to move into a green lining neighborhood in order to have a bigger house and yard in order to create more opportunities for her children and grandchildren. Mama’s plant symbolizes her dream of moving into a green lining neighborhood when Hansberry mentions that the plant does not get enough sunlight, Mama takes care of the plant each morning, and it is brought to the Youngers new house.

Mama’s plant represents her dream of buying a house when she describes that the plant does not receive enough sunlight. Early on a Friday morning, Mama wakes up to Walter, her son, slamming a door after fighting with his sister, Beneatha, over what their fathers life insurance money should be used for. When Mama enters the room, she exclaims, “ ‘Lord, if this little old plant don’t get more sun than it’s …

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…hapter of her life. Mama has had her dream as far back as she can remember even though it has been shot down by others because of her ethnicity. However, many people hold onto a dream that may seem out of their reach such as Gail Devers, an African-American three time Olympic champion. Devers believed in her dream of becoming an Olympian when people told her that she would never be able to do it. She now advises others by saying, “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe” (Devers).

Works Cited

Devers, Gail. “Your Dreams Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 20 May 2014. .

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage, 1994. Print.

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