Lena, mother of Beneatha and Walter, makes it clear that all she ever wanted is to make her children happy and provide for them. According to A Raisin in the Sun, the family will be receiving a $10,000 insurance check for the death of Lena husband and Lena wants Walter to have the remaining $6,500. With this money, Mama says to Walter that, “Monday morning I want you to take this money and take three thousand dollars and put it in a savings account for Beneatha’s medical schooling. The rest you put in a checking account—with your name on it” (Hansberry 985). In making this comment, Lena believes that Walter will be the man of the house and show that he knows what to do with the money. Some might argue that Walter is just trying to provide for his family, but I think that Walter needed to be more responsible. With that being said, Mama should have kept all of the money herself for other plans the family could’ve saved up for.
Walter feels like less of a man, because he’s a struggling adult and can’t really provide for his family. Mama gives Walter an opportunity to demonstrate he can do what needs to be done to take care of their needs. Walter’s determination to start a liquor store made him view it as the end of the family suffering. But once being told about the money, Walter showed how dependable he actually was. As Walter’s dreams seems to become true, he appears to focus more on the liquor store than his family. Walter conveys his lack of responsibility when he doesn’t do what Mama said, however, and just hands the money all over to Willy Harris for the liquor store. Willy then takes all the money Walter gave him and run off with it. I feel like Mama didn’t know whether Walter is trustworthy or not, but she knows she has to show him she trust him if she wants him to act more like an adult. On that note, I think since she was clueless of Walter actions, so she should’ve seen how responsible he’ll be using something else other than money. After losing the money, that should’ve taught Walter to be more responsible and that’s why others look at him differently. To prove himself responsible, he shouldn’t have let the liquor store been something he wanted to invest in.
Walter is not completely driven by selfish needs, his actions in the play sometimes showed the love he has for his family. In the beginning of the play, he gives Travis fifty cents when Ruth told their son they didn’t have it. In addition to the fifty cents, Walter tells his son, “In fact, here’s another fifty cents . . . Buy yourself some fruit today—or take a taxicab to school or something” (Hansberry 943). He wants the best kind of life for his wife and son, something he feels he needs to provide them as man of the house. “Hell, yes, I want me some yachts some day! Yes, I want to hang some real pearls around my wife’s neck. Ain’t she supposed to wear no pearls? …I tell you I am a man-and I think my wife should wear some pearls in this world!” However, if Walter wants all this for his family, he needs to be dependable and more of a man.
Mama says to Walter, “I been doing to you what the rest of the world been doing to you” (Hansberry 984). She understands that Walter feels impoverish by the way others treats him, and she wants to build his confidence by letting him know that she never stopped trusting or loving him. However, I think Walter did not deserve the money because of his attitude and the way he treated his family before receiving the money. In my opinion, Mama should’ve brought the house with Walter money instead of putting a down payment. By focusing on dedicating her life to her children, Mama overlooks the way she once felt about Walter’s plans for them. At first, Mama wasn’t having the idea of Walter wanting to invest the money into the store. With that being said, I feel like the money that would’ve helped Walter in his dreams for a liquor store could’ve instead been invested in Beneatha’s education or for Travis future aspirations.
Mr. Lindner, a white man from the neighborhood the family is trying to move into, tried to pay the Youngers not to move into their new house. Lindner wants to buy the family new house for “a very generous offer” so that they won’t move into the neighborhood he lives in (Hansberry 992). When Walter thought his dreams were becoming true, he happily kicked Mr. Lindner out and assured him that they didn’t need his money. However, when Walter loses all the money, he becomes hopeless and in need of the money that Lindner was trying to offer to the family. Walter then disappoints Mama again when he let her know that he called Lindner over and that he was going to accept the money. By accepting the money, Walter showed that he cared more about the money than how the family felt about accepting the deal. I believe that Walter was once again not being responsible because he was willing to shamefully embarrass himself and the family for some money.
Ultimately, though, in A Raisin in the Sun, Lena’s hope for Walter is absolved when her son refuses to accept the money from Mr. Lindner. When the white man returns, Mama made Travis stay in the room so Walter could talk to Lindner in front of him. Mama believes that making Travis stay in the room will change Walter’s mind about agreeing to move because he don’t want to make his son upset. So of course, Walter just can’t act that way for some money in front of his son and ends up declining the deal that the family was offered. In the end, I think Walter finds his self-esteem and was starting to become more of a man. His struggling and times of trouble guided him to a man worthy of respect that Mama always hoped for. Although Walter makes a great decision towards the end of the play, I feel like Walter should’ve been more dependable from the start. Also, I feel like just because Walter made Mama feel guilty, she still shouldn’t have left Walter responsible for the money. In Mama Younger, Lorraine Hansberry showed how she cared about her children so much that she will risk almost anything for them. Of course, with Walter, the play also shows us how the money was important to him, turning him against the ones he loves the most.