This book, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Vivian Hansberry, tells the story of a lower-class black familys struggle to gain middle class acceptance in the Southside of Chicago. The Younger family of five, four adults and one child live in a cramped apartment in one of the poorer sections of town. The dream of owning your own business and having all the money you will ever need is a goal held by many in society, then and now. Walter Lee Younger becomes obsessed with his dream of a business venture that will give him financial and social independence, after getting and losing the money that will help this dream become reality he realizes that pride and dignity are more important for him and his family.
Walter is obsessed with the insurance check that the family is waiting for, ten thousand dollars, will solve all his financial and social problems. The fact that the money is really his Mamas because of the death of his father complicates the issue. But he points out “He was my father, too!” (38). Walter wants Mama to give him the money so he can open a liquor store with two friends. He feels as if this will finally allow him the opportunity to provide all the material things, necessities and luxuries for his family.
Walter wonders, why shouldnt his wife wear pearls. Walter keeps hounding his wife, mother, or anyone else that is around. He is so fanatic about his dream, that he is uncaring to his family. He talks non-stop about his dream but still shouts; “WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE LISTEN TO ME TODAY!” (70).
Walter is so addicted to his dream that it overshadows everything else that is going on. Walter is so selfish that as the story unfolds and Walter realizes that Mama has made a down payment on a house in a white middle class neighborhood he feels like his dream has been butchered. Walter says to Mama ” You run our lives like you want to” (95). Mama after realizing that Walter needs to feel like the man of the house, gives him the balance of the money.
The dream of having the money gets bigger and bigger as he talks to his son Travis. He runs through a scenario to Travis that takes him from the selfish to the ridiculous. Walter has to make his dream a reality out of desperation. Walter is not a very smart businessman and gives the money to one of his friends Willy. Willy runs off with the money and Walter is now consumed with anger, helplessness, self- hate and grief. His dream is dead and he has no one to blame but himself.
Walter finally shows pride and dignity by turning down the offer of money to not move into the house. These are new characteristics for Walter. He no longer seems to be obsessed with a get quick rich scheme or consumed his own selfish wants; instead he is facing the realities of his situation. Walter though out the book thinks that money is linked to self worth. When Walter speaks to Lindner we know that Walter finally understands what is important; ” we are very proud people we have decided to move into our house because my father -my father- he earned it for us brick by brick” (148). Walter is now broke and feeling foolish, but he has matured into a man that realizes that money is not what is important.
Walter Lee Younger through his obsessive dream of owing his own liquor store, getting and losing the money that will help this dream become reality, becomes a better man for the experience. Walters fascination with money consumes all his thoughts and action. After finally getting the money he makes a poor decision on who he trusted with the money. He finally realizes he should have trusted himself and not others. It was his dream.
This maturity led him to do the right thing and stand up with pride to those who did not want the Younger family to move to the middle class neighborhood. To dream of a better life is a great dream, but we have to be careful about letting it consume us. Sometime when we get caught up in a dream we do not realize what else is important.