Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun revolves around a short but difficult period in the lives of the Younger family. Each family member has dreams of a higher quality of life; free from the pressures of poverty and the literal confines of an outgrown and decrepit apartment. Ultimately, the ambitions of each Younger are inspired by dreams of a better life for the family as a whole. Though each Younger approaches this goal differently, they each desire to rise above their current position in the “rat trap” of society into a better, more respectable, life (964). Each Younger is chasing an ambiguous notion of success and believes that they will bring an end to the family’s hardships; consequentially leading to prosperity and, of chief importance to the Youngers, the rebirth of the families relationships and pride.
Walter Lee Younger aspires to obtain wealth and fortune through entrepreneurism and business savvy. Walter’s belief that money is life drives his desire to become a powerful business person and fuels his belief that the family’s problems could all be solved with enough money (980). Unfortunately, Walter’s lack of experience, demonstrated by his belief that “don't nothing happen for you in this world ‘less you pay somebody off!”, continually hinders his success in life (957). Despite his shortcomings, Walter is persistent in his belief that he can succeed as a entrepreneur, eventually resulting in the loss of the family’s insurance money to Willie Harris. Walter’s belief that money is the solution results in him taking an unreasonable risk. Though these risks result in harm coming to his family they were undertaken in a desperate attempt to improve their lives.
Walter’s actions are also significantly motivated by his interest in the Younger family pride. Though displayed less than his lust for wealth, Walter’s pride in his family prevails over his desire for money, even when the prospect of prosperity may be the better choice. This realization culminates in Walter’s refusal of Mr. Lindner’s final offer to pay for the Younger’s home in Clybourne Park, Walter acts on his newly discovered belief, that his pride, and that of his family, are more valuable an asset than any amount of money offered to them. This decision accomplishes something for the Younger family that money could not — it brings the Younger’s to the same social standing as all other Americans. Rather than accepting the downtrodden role thrust upon them, Walter’s decision proves that the Younger’s are equal.
Unlike Walter, Ruth Younger does not place emphasis on wealth. With the arrival of the insurance money and the prospect of prosperity Ruth suggests that Lena take “a trip somewhere. To Europe or South America or someplace —” only after Lena suggests that they use the money to place a down payment on a house does Ruth realize the intrinsic relationship shared by the money and the family’s future. The notion of owning a house endues in Ruth a version of the...