Portrayal Of An African American Family In Raisin In The Sun By Lorraine Hansburry

1459 words - 6 pages

A Raisin in the Sun is set in the South of Chicago in the 1950’s and portrays the lives of an African-American family, the Youngers, who like many other African-American families migrated from the South to the North to leave behind the social, economic and educational oppression. Unfortunately this is no different in the North. In the play it is seen how Mama solely believes that the meaning of life is freedom and Walter, her son, believes that money is life. Both these characters have conflicting ideas on what they perceive life’s meaning to be. These ideas will be closely analysed, with evidence from the text, to illustrate why they are relevant to Mama and Walter. The function of time will be closely analysed as well to show how over the course of a few weeks it influences their particular meanings of life. I agree with Mama saying that their interpretations of life are due to intergenerational differences, and not on what Walter suggests about life always being about money. The aspect of the deferred American dream, which I feel is a central problem in the play, will also be dealt with in relation to Mama and Walter’s dreams and how time functions in relation to this.

Mama, the matriarch of the Younger family, she is highly religious and completely selfless. To Mama life is freedom. She is the fifth generation from slavery in her family, so she is much more involved with the issue of slavery and is very aware of slavery and having no freedom. She is from a different generation to Walter and so her meaning of life is therefore different. Mama feels that Walter does not appreciate the struggles his family has battled and endured in order to be where they are today. Mama and Walter’s generation have different views on life because of the different issues that were presented to each of them.

To elaborate on some of the issues Mama has been presented with are the mere act of just staying alive which was everyone’s main goal. We know this because Mama says “In my time we was worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too”, we can deduce from this that Mama was faced with extreme hardships and endured many struggles in order to have freedom and get to where she is in the present. Her meaning of life is very important to her and has deep emotional roots, and this is why Mama and Walter differ in their meanings of life. When Mama is to receive her husband’s insurance cheque we see how Mama’s reaction is not as expected, she is sad and depressed because she realizes no amount of money can bring back a loved one. It is even said in the play by Mama that she would give the money away if it were not for her family. Mama is not obsessed about the cheque like the rest of her family; she only wants to use the cheque to better the lives of her family. She wants to pay for Beneatha’s medical school and invest in her grandson’s future by moving to a bigger house. She wants more...

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