Struggles within the Younger family in the play A Raisin in the Sun
A raisin in the sun is a story and also a play that illustrates the struggles of a poor African American family who uses figurative language, symbols, and poems such as a way to relate to the audience and portray its relation to everyday issues incurred by people, especially African Americans. A family of five deals with poverty and consistently growing oppression of a black family who’s moved in a small neighborhood in Southside Chicago. Throughout the play, the oppression and tension within the family grows from the frustration of waiting patiently for an insurance check from Walter’s death that is reliable to fix their financial needs for a better living, education, and personal wants.
However, while waiting on the check, living in an dominant white neighborhood leads to the family encountering racial tensions that result in neighbors bribing the family with money to move out to keep it that way. Disregarding the idea, Walter and his family continues to crumble under the tension from the disposition of the money from the insurance check which starts to threaten his marriage, family, and his own business that he dreams of investing plenty more into. When Walter finally gets a portion of the check and puts it into the wrong hands, he is then put into a predicament that makes him consider taking his neighbors offer but then realizes the importance behind the money and denies the offer and aim for a better way of living.
A Raisin in the Sun confronts not only racial but real life issues that African Americans have faced. With the family dysfunction, poverty, large family in the urban ghetto and the struggle. The characters also complete the story by depicting the strong, the weak, and the backbone of the African American family that either holds the family together or the one who creates conflict or tension but realizes the bigger picture or what’s really important and unites with the rest of the family for a better living or in this case, to achieve a dream.
African American families have dealt with issues with poverty and racism back in the 1950’s like the author discusses in this story. Many African Americans encounter hardships and conflict in their lives because of their race. They have dealt with a lot of adversity and have been strong to overcome the issues they have been dealt. There is still a lot of poverty in the world today among African American families. Back in the 1900’s African Americans were not able to vote, they were not able to ride in the front of the bus. They were not able to drink out of the same water fountain as white Americans and they also had a separate restroom to use. They worked jobs but were not able to support their families with much and that is why there was so many of them living in poverty. African Americans were slaves and had to work for white Americans who paid them little to nothing. Whites and blacks were not mixed they were always segregated. There were African Americans who fought hard for justice for blacks and they were the voices for them. Martin Luther King Jr. was a powerful man who fought hard for African Americans and had dealt with a lot of racism himself. African Americans who had to deal with poverty experienced other issues also just like the Younger family. With them being poor it had the family in turmoil because they all had dreams that they wanted to pursue but couldn’t because they could not afford to. Poverty and racism continue to undermine our nation’s most basic promise of liberty and justice for all. Even as the 40th anniversary of his assassination approaches, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s aspiration for America, a dream of a land where men [and women] of all races, of all nationalities, and all creeds can live together as brothers [and sisters] remains a dream as yet unfulfilled.2 Racism and poverty go hand and hand because people who are trying to get away from poverty are always judged and looked at differently. Not all people who are dealing with poverty are black you also have some white Americans dealing with poverty. The highest rates of poverty are among children, especially children of color. The poverty rate for white children is 10 percent, while it is 28 percent for Latino children, 27 percent for Native-American children, and 33 percent for African-American children.3. In the world today there are more people helping others so there is not as much poverty because there is so much assistance.
In the story there were white Americans who did not want the Youngers to move into their neighborhood because they did not want any blacks in their neighborhood. There were times back in the 1950’s when blacks could not eat on the same side as whites in restaurants. Blacks had to wait and be last and let the whites go before them. Rosa Parks was a black activist who went to jail because she refused to give up her seat on a bus to let a white person sit down. That was the beginning of a new era of life. Blacks had to suffer beatings and go to jail all because they were standing up for what they believed in. Black Americans were not able to vote back in the 1950’s but so many of them have fought for the rights of African Americans to have the same as white Americans. Racial disparities play a part in healthcare also because there is poverty and many can’t afford healthcare or the treatment if they are sick and need medications. Most people in poverty require assistance from the state such as Medicaid and food stamps to help support their family if they have one. The Younger family wanted to better themselves that is why when they got the insurance check the mom wanted to start by living in a better home. Dealing with racial issues when you have children you have to lead by example and that is why Walter denied the white guy’s money even though he needed it. In the story Walter worked for a white man as his chauffer and that was how it was. Black Americans were the maids, chauffer’s, butlers, and nanny’s to the white Americans. Walter and his family all dreamed of living a better life and was willing to work hard to fulfill their dreams. Blacks had to work much harder than whites to fulfill their dreams. There are many issues that people deal with when they are in poverty, not only racism but there are usually social issues. When families don’t have a lot it tends to be animosity amongst each other. In the story when the insurance check came everyone had a plan for the money and that started a family feud. Walter wanted to invest the money to make money but ended up losing out on everything because the guy left town with his money. They dealt with social issues amongst each other but in the end they were united as one. When you are living in poverty there is only so much you can do. The money that you do receive you have to eat and if you have children which most people do they have to make sure they are fed. The Youngers lived in a roach infested crowded apartment and did not have much of a social life. They had nothing but dreams of becoming better people and leaving the ghetto.
In this story there are many issues that the Younger family is dealing with. They dealt with racism, poverty, social and economical issues. The mother of the family seemed to hold the family together. There was a lot symbolism used in this story also. The mother showed the family how to stay united even though they were facing many adversities. The mother of the family was the glue that held everyone together because they were dealing with so much and everyone had a different dream. When facing so many adversities you have to stay focused on your dream and stay determined. Walter wanted to show his son that just beating segregation and not giving the whites the satisfaction of having power over blacks with their wealth and proving to his son about dignity and what’s more important even though the money would have been helpful.
This story could help someone who is dealing with racial discrimination or poverty issues and has dreams. The Younger family never gave up on their dreams and each one of them had a different dream. Even though they had some family issues after the insurance check came and they got the new home that united the family. When the family moves into the new home they are leaving so many memories behind and that will help them to look back and appreciate things more. The family did not let the fact that the whites did not want them in their neighborhood stop them. That was the mothers dream and she fulfilled it even when they were racially discriminated. They had many struggles of life but never gave in or let things defeat them. The mother of the story was faced with difficult decisions throughout the story but she made sure to keep her family united as one. The family wandered apart after feuding over the insurance check but the important part in the end is that they were united in their new house that the whites did not want them in.
In the world today there are not as many people dealing with poverty and racism is not like it was before. Racism does still exist but nothing like back in the 1950’s. White and blacks have all the same rights and the only difference in the two is the color of one’s skin. The activist for African Americans worked really hard and made many sacrifices to make sure that all Americans were treated the same way not matter what. Things that happened in this story reflects back on the Civil Rights Movement and how hard they worked to get equal opportunities for all.
In conclusion of this story, the Younger family overcame many obstacles that they were faced with. They were a poor black family that was determined to make it out of the ghetto and they did. Even though they were faced with family tension and racial discrimination they never gave up on their dreams for a better life. No matter what you are faced with you should never give up. This story described several adversities like racism and poverty but it also talks about dreams and family
2 Martin Luther King, Jr., A Testament of Hope, edited by Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986) 208
3 U.S. Census data, 2005
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