In 1959, “A Raisin in the Sun” premiered on Broadway, written by Lorraine Hansberry. The play depicts an African American family in the 1950’s that will soon be inheriting a $10,000 check. Each family member plans on using the money in a different way. Their happiness and sadness relied on their personal dreams happening or not. The Youngers strive for their dreams to come true, but the dreams get put on hold after Walter Younger makes a mistake and loses the money. The family puts aside their differences to make the dream that best helps the household come true. While dreams are important, the theme of family is prominent throughout the story and is essential in their newfound pride and dignity. The Youngers succeed because when they take a chance, come together and not be selfish, and realize money is not everything they finally come together as a family.
“A Raisin in the Sun” is the first play written by an African American that premiered on Broadway. Lorraine Hansberry wrote the play in 1957 in Chicago and it premiered on Broadway in 1959. The play reflects Chicago in 1945-1959 when racial tension was prominent. Two months after Lorraine Hansberry became the youngest American playwright, the fifth woman, the first black writer to win the New York Drama Critics Circle award for “The Best Play of the Year.” Six years later, at the age of 34, Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer. Hansberry claims that “A Raisin in the Sun” reflects her life at one point. She used members of her family as an inspiration for her characters in “A Raisin in the Sun.” Hansberry used real people as character examples, such as Nannie Hansbury and Mama Younger, and Carl Hansberry and Big Walter. In an interview, Hansberry laughingly said “Beneatha is me 8 years ago.” When Hansberry was a young girl, her family was forced to move from an all-white neighborhood. Her family took it to the Supreme Court, and they won Hansberry vs Lee. The family was always entertaining prominent members of the African American community, such as W.E.B. DuBois and Langston Hughes. Hansbury used the poem “Harlem”, written by Hughes, to create the title for “A Raisin in the Sun.”
When the Younger’s take chances, the family succeeds in the end. Mama takes a chance and buys a house in a white neighborhood. When Mama tells Walter some of the money is going to Beneatha, he is upset. Walter appears upset because he feels he never got a chance to prove himself. Walter wants to be rich and successful, so he can prove to his family he is a man. Mama does not want him to go into the liquor business because of her own values, but never says he cannot go into another business venture. Walter loses the rest of the money when he gives it to Willy for the Liquor store. Walter still feels he is not a man and must prove himself to the others as a provider. When Mr. Linder comes to their home and says they are not wanted in the white neighborhood, Walter decides for the family they will move anyway. This act boosts their pride and dignity as a family. The family took a chance by challenging the racial standard in Chicago. Taking that chance can change their lives for the better or worse.
When the younger’s come together and put their selfishness aside, they become more like a family. The Younger’s have dreams about what they want to do with the money. Beneatha wants her medical bills paid, Mama wants to buy a house, and Walter would like to use the money to invest in the liquor store. All of these dreams claim help the family in a certain way, but Mama’s dream is the only dream that is not selfish. Beneatha and Walter get into an argument about how the family has done so much for her, but she is ungrateful. She is facetious and gets onto the floor and cries thank you. Walter tells Beneatha this because he is bitter. He puts down Beneatha’s dream, so he can have his own. Walter also shuts out his own family for not believing in his dream. Walter also upset with his mom about buying the house, but Mama’s dream benefits everyone in the family. The whole family gets a new house without cockroaches and cracks. Despite its location, the house helps the family improve their life. Walter finally decides that his dream was selfish, and Mama was right when she convinces him in front of his son that they should not sell the house. Walter tells Mr. Linder they will move to Clybourne Park, and Walter fulfills his dream of becoming a man.
When the family realizes money is not everything the family becomes closer. In play and the movie, Asagai gives criticizes Beneatha about the money. Asagai exclaims, “There is something very wrong when all the dreams in the house depend on a man dying.” The family is in the same place they were in before Walter lost the money. Asagai’s speech makes Beneatha realize that there is more to life than money. When Walter is at his lowest, he thinks the check will solve his problems. Walter wants to become a businessman, and he makes a poor judgment and loses the money. His ego is now worse than it was, and Walter does not feel like a man. Walter decides he should sell his pride for money. Mama is upset with Walter in tells him to look his son in the eye and tell him he was going to sell the house. After talking to his mother when Mr. Linder came by again, he decides he will make his family proud. Walter realizes having pride in yourself and for your family is more important than being rich. He sticks up for his family against racism. Walter’s ego is boosted, and he understands that the money does not make him a man. Walter stands up for his family against Clybourne Park to become the man of the family.