The Dual Nature of Money in “A Raisin in the Sun”
Money’s Dual Role
If you could have anything in the world right now, what would that be? Now some would say a nice house and a fancy car. However, most people would say money. Money is important to people, it is used to pay your bills, buy groceries and exchange items with other people. Even though money is important, some people and families don’t have good funding from their jobs and live paycheck after paycheck. Living a life in debt is not an easy life to live. You don’t have as much or sometimes no choice in how you spend your money, and most live off the street because of it. People see money as a gift, but others can see it as a curse.
Money’s Impact in Drama
Multiple examples can be found in “A Raisin In The Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry this play can show you both the good and the bad side of money. On the one hand, the happiness money can bring to people helping them reach their goals, and on the other hand, it can make people go mad and argue with each other. “A Raisin In The Sun” takes place in the South side of Chicago in 1959, an african-american family is about to receive a check of $10,000 for an insurance policy from a deceased Mr.Younger. Everyone has an idea of what they would use the money for, Mama, the wife of Mr.Younger, would like to buy a house to share the dream she wanted with her husband. Mama’s son walter lee wants to use the money to invest in a liquor store. Beneatha’s dream is to become a doctor; however, by the play’s end, Walter’s lost investment puts both his and Beneatha’s dreams in jeopardy.
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Money’s Destructive Influence
Money makes the world go round in the country we live in now, and it’s been that way for a long time, money gives you power, and some people can go crazy because of it. Walter Lee was one person that let money go to his head. At the beginning of the play, we can see early Walter’s dream of opening up a liquor store, but Mama has other plans with the cash, she plans on buying something more for the family, a new home. The insurance money makes Walter more aggressive as the play goes on, even to the point of yelling at his mother about how much he wants money “I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy…Mama – look at me.” (act one scene two Lorraine Hansberry) this clearly indicates how money can make someone go mad the desire to have more than what you got can have a very bad negative effects on a person.
Dual Nature of Money’s Impact
Dreams have a big impact on this play, and just as money is a bad thing, it can also cause good. Mama’s and her husband’s dream was to have a new home, and Mama finally gets to have her dream in the play not only did she buy a new home, but she was able to give cash to her family as well. With the insurance money, Mama has made everyone happy around the time this play takes place, money is very scarce for family’s, so when everyone hears it was 10,000 dollars, the family is taken by shock because they are used to not having any at all.
Everyone has a different take on what money is to them, but A raisin in the Sun does a very good job showing both the good and the bad side of money it shows us, the reader or the audience, that on one side, money can make your dream become a reality like with Mama and her new home, and the not so pretty side where it engulfs’s your life and you want it all. Just like how Walter became obsessed with money and it was the only thing he wanted, however, Mama grew up in a time where freedom was the only thing that they could ask for. “So now it’s life. Money is life.
Once upon a time freedom used to be life – now it’s money. I guess the world really do change…” (page 7). Mama has more wisdom growing up in rough conditions, but w]Walter didn’t have to struggle like Mama had too, and because of this, it shows how money can shape people’s minds and make it seem like a need in their life.
- Hansberry, L. (1959). A Raisin In The Sun. Random House.
- McClinton, J. (2001). Money and Dreams in “A Raisin in the Sun”. In A Companion to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (pp. 85-97). Greenwood Publishing Group.
- Schwartz, B. (2004). The Influence of Money on Human Behavior. Psychological Science Agenda, 17(5), 7-8.
- Kasser, T., & Kanner, A. D. (2004). Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for a Good Life in a Materialistic World. American Psychological Association.
- Mills, C. W. (1951). White Collar: The American Middle Classes. Oxford University Press.
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903). The Souls of Black Folk. A.C. McClurg & Co.